Student Voices: An Internship at the Colosseum

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IES Abroad
December 11, 2018


A photo of a student standing near the Colosseum in Rome

How cool would it be to tell your friends, family, and future employers, “I had an internship abroad at the Colosseum!”?

Well, that’s exactly what Spring 2018 alum Francesca Costa (Rome – Language & Area Studies ǀ Gettysburg College) did, and you can, too!

Each semester and summer at IES Abroad Rome, students can participate in both part- and full-time IES Internships. Placements are available across a variety of fields, from marketing to health to tourism and more. And, yes, those placements could be at a well-known place, like the Colosseum.

To learn more about this exciting placement opportunity, IES Internships spoke with Francesca about her part-time internship in Rome at the Colosseum, where she worked alongside a handful of other IES Abroad Rome students.

Colosseum lightened up in green colors in the evening

IES Internships: Why did you decide to pursue an internship while you were studying abroad?

Francesca Costa (FC): I decided to pursue an internship because I love getting work experience wherever I am, and an Italian archaeological site can only be a fantastic place to learn the ropes.

IES Internships: How did the internship placement process work?

FC: I was in touch with [IES Internship Coordinator] Simona, who interviewed me and required a résumé. After that, she gave me a list of AMAZING sites such as the Markets of Trajan, the Underground Rome program, and others. I chose the Colosseum because it appealed the most to me, but it was a difficult decision. 

IES Internships: Did it match up with your major or interests at the time?

FC: Of course, it did! I am a Classics Major, so I dabble in history, language, culture, and archaeology. Although my school offers archaeological digs on the Civil War [Gettysburg] battlefield, America cannot really boast of its ancient Roman finds. For that, I would need to go to Italy and participate in something there.

Francesca and other students at an archaeological expedition

IES Internships: Was interning at the Colosseum something you came to Rome to do? Did you know this was possible?

FC: I did know it was an internship option; however, Simona explained that we might end up at another site. I didn’t mind, because you can’t be picky about ancient archaeological sites! Once I got there, we were told that we were working at the Colosseum, and we were all very happy. 

IES Internships: What was a typical day like at your internship?

FC: We usually waited outside with our equipment on (and stared at with curiosity by all the tourists). After that, we entered through the staff entrance and went into our individual cove to do work. It is one of the closed, tunnel-like features found all over the Colosseum. It would feel like a real cave sometimes, and we were surrounded by shelves and shelves of marble. Our tasks were to record these features and scrub the marble. 

IES Internships: What was your primary or favorite project?

The project we worked on was trying to find more information about an architectural decoration that belonged to the most prestigious sections of the Colosseum. This feature was destroyed, and we know next to nothing about it. Part of the reason it didn’t survive is the fact that it used fancy marble, which was recycled in the 400 churches all around the city. The small chunks of fancy marble that we found and cleaned showed a different style of carving, and brought this impressive decoration back to life with hints of its color and shape.

Francesca and other students at an archaeological expedition

IES Internships: How did you find balancing your internship and coursework?

FC: My courses were Monday through Thursday, so I found it easy to give my Fridays and some hours here and there throughout the week to the internship program! I might lose my three-day weekend, but I gained so much knowledge and experience.

IES Internships: How would you compare/contrast the work environment in Rome compared to other internships you had?

FC: I have had two other jobs in cities, one in Edinburgh, Scotland, and the other in New York, New York. Both had a lot more commuting involved, and I was glad that in Italy I was able to walk to sites relatively easily. Of course, the food was amazing, too!

IES Internships: What were the main skills/takeaways you gained from the placement?

FC: I have learned how to analyze artifacts, wash marble, and deal with the public. It helps me because I want to go into the field of Museum Education, and getting a behind-the-scenes view of how to find artifacts and handling them outside of a museum space is very important.

Francesca and other students at an archaeological expedition

IES Internships: Why would you recommend an internship abroad to future students?

FC: I would recommend this internship to anyone who wants to see an ancient site or gain experience working with their hands. You don’t need experience beforehand, and they will help you become the best intern you can be! 

IES Internships: How has your experience benefited you personally and/or professionally since completing it?

FC: This internship has helped me build up my résumé and confidence. It was an experience of a lifetime, and my friends and I make up a small number of people who can say they have worked at the Colosseum! It was totally worth it, and at any job I get in the future, I can proudly brag about my previous work experience.

Thank you, Francesca, for sharing your incredible experience with us!

If you’d like to learn more about interning abroad in Rome or one of 14 other cities from students who’ve completed IES Internships, contact a past intern.

Or, if you’re ready to take the next step and apply for an IES internship, explore our full-time internship programs.

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