Kent State students take on internships in Florence, Italy

Photo courtesy of Florence Flour blog

Photo courtesy of Florence Flour blog

Alyse Rohloff

Four Kent State students interned at hotels in Florence, Italy this summer through the hospitality management program in the College of Education, Health and Human Services.

Senior hospitality management majors Zachary Anderson, Michael Farber and Andrea Sutton and senior business management major Jacquelyn Myers, known as the Florence Four, are the first students to complete the program.

They gained hands-on experience in the field of hospitality management while working at one of two Florence hotels: Hotel Benivieni and Hotel Tornabuoni Beacci.

“One of my biggest regrets in college had been not studying abroad,” Anderson said. “I saw this opportunity come up, and I was like, ‘Wow, I can actually study abroad and get the internship knocked out, so I can kill two birds with one stone.’”

Planning began in February, and the students left for Florence in May, a quick turnaround for this kind of program, said Swathi Ravichandran, an associate professor of hospitality management and the program coordinator.

“We wanted to get the program started,” Ravichandran said. “I could come up with a million and one reasons for not doing it, but there are so many great reasons for doing it that we thought ‘OK, we’ve done a lot of work and a lot of research.’”

The students fulfilled requirements for their practicum and took a three-credit-hour independent study course alongside their internships. They also created a blog called The Florence Four to update others on their internships, experiences and travels.

Duties at the two hotels differed; while some had more specific jobs like managing a section of the hotel, others completed different tasks around the hotel.

Myers said working at the front desk of Hotel Tornabuoni Beacci included checking guests in and out, updating room binders from Italian to English and helping with lunch parties and luncheons.

Anderson said that while working at Hotel Benivieni, some of his duties included managing the front desk, helping with maintenance, cooking breakfast and updating the hotel’s website.

“It’s really important for students to have international experience, internships especially,” said Amber Cruxton, program coordinator for Kent State Florence. “If you think about that fact that only two percent of (college) students study abroad in the entire nation, you’re already separating yourself into that group and making yourself more marketable in terms of employability.”

The students worked a maximum of 20 hours a week and were given time to travel throughout Europe. They would work Monday to Wednesday most weeks and be free to travel the rest of the week.

“At first, we didn’t want to abuse that power because we felt bad,” Anderson said. “We’re like, ‘We’re here for you guys.’ But then we realized they really just wanted us to go out and have fun and see everything. We worked less and less. Our bosses were cool with it; they said, ‘Go ahead. If you want to travel, travel. We’re not holding you back.’”

The students visited sites including Chianti Land, the Amalfi Coast, Croatia, Amsterdam, Ireland, Cinque Terre and Pisa. They also had the chance to go the Milan Exposition 2015.

Myers said the program taught the students a number of both academic and non-academic things, including taking their time with things and having more respect for others.

“It was an amazing experience,” Anderson said. “It’s worth the money, it’s worth all that crap everyone is worried about. It’s worth it, 100 percent. I would not give it up for the world. I still continue to talk about it with all my friends, and they hate me for it.”

Contact Alyse Rohloff at [email protected].