Internship Seminar

You are here

Course Information
Internship Seminar
Terms offered: 
Fall, Spring
Language of instruction: 
Contact Hours: 
22 in seminar plus min 10 hrs/wk at placement site
  • Adequate Italian language skills (to be defined during internship interview)
  • Successful Internship Placement

Note: Students must receive 3 credits from their home institutions in order to enroll in the Internship program.

Additional student cost: 



More and more companies value international experiences on a candidate’s résumé. A worker with intercultural competence is more flexible, analytical, tolerant to change, and open minded. This seminar is the academic complement to the Internship experience and investigates the cultural issues that inevitably surround working within a foreign environment. The seminar will be based on the intercultural knowledge that the interns stand to gain through their internship. 

The seminar consists of different types of classes:

  • Class Meetings: Students will take an active part, discussing “What do we understand as culture?” and “How does culture affect business?”. The basis of the seminar outline will include: Intercultural competence, Italian labor relations, different concepts of time management, Italian leadership in some key sectors (i.e. Fashion), diversity management. Students will also discuss all contents of guest speakers’ interventions expressing personal points of view. These classes will analyze the students’ on-the-job problems as they occur and, through discussions, explore the students’ work experience. In addition, classes will concentrate on explaining fundamental differences in social structure and behavior affecting the work environment.
  • Lessons held by speakers who are experts in their fields (Gender Issues, Fashion, Business, etc.). During these classes, students have the opportunity to ask the guest speakers for advice about how to pursue their career path, appropriate behavior, as well as dress code, etc. Furthermore, the instructor and the guest speakers will emphasize most of the differences between the American and Italian job markets. Some guest speakers will be either Americans with work experience in Italy or Italians with work experience in America.
  • Field Studies: Students will visit some relevant and typical places to better understand the Italian culture and how culture may affect business.
  • Final Presentation 
Attendance policy: 

Regular class attendance is mandatory. Students are expected to attend classes each day.

IES Abroad Milano allows a maximum of TWO excused absences per course to be used for emergencies related to health, family, religion. Each further absence will automatically result in a penalty of 2 point off (2/100) on the final grade. Please note that this rule does not apply to exams: failure to attend your midterm and/or final exam will automatically result in an F grade on that paper/exam. FOUR absences in the seminar will result in a failing grade (2 excused absences included). Furthermore, absence on the date of scheduled tests, presentations or quizzes does not entitle to recover/reschedule such tests. If using absences for travel, students must be aware that they may remain with no excusable absence in case of illness.

Method of presentation: 

Lectures and discussions on assigned readings and on cultural and labor relations in Italy, lectures by some guest speakers.

Field study: 

Students will visit some relevant and typical places to better understand the Italian culture and how culture may affect business.

Required work and form of assessment: 
  • Sponsor's Report - 40%
  • Attendance  / Participation / Personal Presentation / Home Assignments 
    (to read and prepare the materials designated for each session beforehand) - 35%
  • Final Presentation - 25%

Sponsor's Report
The workplace supervisor will evaluate several aspects like attendance, punctuality, interest and efficiency of the student.

Regular attendance at sponsor’s working place (10 hrs/wk minimum). Regular attendance required or automatic failure. Attendance at weekly seminar and lectures is mandatory (2 hrs/wk).

Active participation during the course will be evaluated on the quality of the debate. Students are expected to read excerpts from the course pack assigned by the mentor. Readings will be discussed in class.

Final Presentation
Each student will prepare a final presentation about his/her work experience.

Lesson Content Readings
(to be prepared for before lecture)
Useful Links
1: Welcome
  • Internship Program Presentation
  • Syllabus/Class Policies/Office Hours
  • Interviews with Internship Coordinator
  • “Dealing with Stress Abroad”, pages 169-170 of Course Pack
  • About business behavior: “About Italy” pdf document of the Course Pack

Tourism and cultural opportunities in Milan:

2: Guest Speaker: Dott.  Alberto Busnelli – HR Manager of BASF Italy
  • Brief introduction: Basf activities presentation
  • Skills and competencies
  • “21st Century Talent Spotting”, pdf file of the course pack. 

About BASF:

3: The Interview,  Guest Speaker: Mr. Alberto Busnelli – HR Manager of BASF Italy
  • Mock interviews
  • Some useful tips for your Italian interview
  • Pages 299-300 “Internships”, pages 239-242 “Working in the Public or Private Sector” and pages 233-238 “Business Etiquette”.
    These readings will help you understand the Italian labor market and appropriate business behavior in Italy.
  • Based on the assigned readings, please prepare some questions for our Guest Speaker: Mr. Alberto Busnelli, Human Resources Manager of BASF Industries. Questions could be related to the Italian labor market, job interviews, competencies and skills, how to find a job in Italy, transition between university and the labor market, etc.

Interview tips:

4: Field Study - 
A typical Italian company and its history. 
Visit to Branca Museum, Via Resegone 2
  • "Novare serbando" is the leitmotif that has guided Fratelli Branca throughout its history. And it is not a short history at all. Founded by Bernardino Branca in 1845 in Milan, over 160 years ago, the business has always been controlled by the Branca family, who has worked through the years to make Fernet Branca one of the most famous bitter liqueurs in the world.
  • The company, a pioneer in the creation of a bitter liqueur made from herbs and roots from all over the world, has always based its work on innovation, whilst respecting traditions and quality.
  • Pages 205-209 “Sizes and Types of Enterprises” of the Course Pack. This will give you a rough idea of the Italian typical company: a small company run by a family. Thanks to their creativity and innovative ideas, some of them become very successful and famous: Ferrari, Fiat, Barilla, Ferrero, Alessi, etc.
  • A good example: “Distillerie Fratelli Branca” industries. We’ll visit the Branca Museum during the Field Study.

About Branca:

About the Italian Economy:

5: Field Study – The Milanese industrial area. 
Visit to “Museum of Industry and Labor” in Sesto San Giovanni 
  • The city of Sesto San Giovanni is part of the Milan metropolitan area, one of the most densely populated and most highly urbanized areas in Europe.
  • During the 20th century, the city of Sesto San Giovanni was the fifth Italian industrial center of significance, a “factory town” - the so-called “small Manchester”, - based on integrated groups of steel, mechanical and engineering sectors (Falck, Breda and Marelli).
  • Sesto San Giovanni grew during the end of the 19th century and in the early 20th century, becoming the site of several industries, including companies such as Falck, Campari, Magneti Marelli and Breda. In that period the population increased rapidly, from 5,000 inhabitants in 1880 to 14,000 in 1911. After World War II, Sesto became populated by many migrants from other parts of Italy, leading to an increased population of 95,000 inhabitants in 1981.
  • Spazio Mil - Museum of Industry and Labor - The location of the Museum of Industry and Labour (MIL) was built in the old, Breda warehouses area, situated in a vast surface area of the industrial archaeological park. The museum hosts recollections and artifacts from the massive industrialization of Sesto.
  • Inside Spazio Mil is the Giovanni Sacchi Archive, which was set up in collaboration with the Isec Foundation. The archive displays models, products, photographs, designs and documents, as well as the model making workshop with its machines and equipment. It also houses a large collection of artifacts and documents that are available to researchers and students. The various materials have been organized in areas specially prepared to house them and will be used for setting up temporary thematic exhibitions.
  • The archaeological park in the former Breda area.
  • Breda was established in 1886 and opened its Sesto plants in 1903. From the initial production of steam locomotives business expanded to the manufacturing of electrical trains, war material, aeroplanes and parts for the nuclear industry. Among the most famous electrical train products, the ETR 300 "Settebello" and the carriages for the Milan metro. In the Eighties, Breda, which employed 20,000 workers, split up until it disappeared. The areas between Sesto and Milan are today occupied by the new Bicocca settlements, new companies and shopping centres, by a craft district and an industrial archaeological park which hosts the Museum of Industry and Labour (MIL) and the Bridge Crane.
  • Near Spazio Mil is the 1906 Breda 830 locomotive, which was restored through the work of three former Breda employees, and the Breda trip hammer, a large machine tool, five meters high and weighing 15,000 kg, built by the Breda factory itself sometime during 1930s. The trip hammer, used for heat forging, remained in service until the end of the 1980s.


About Sesto San Giovanni, Breda, Falck, Magneti Marelli, Pirelli:

About Giovanni Sacchi:

6: Facing Cultural Differences. Guest Speaker: John Farina, Manager, Crawford Insurance Italy
  • My experience as an American working in Italy
  • Pages 38-57 “Underlying Structures of Culture”. These readings will help you with some cultural differences you may face at work or during your semester in Italy. Based on your own experience in Italy, please prepare some questions for our Guest Speaker: Mr. John Farina, Manager of Crawford Insurance Italy.

About Crawford

About the American and International Community in Milan

7: Meeting one-on-one with Internship Coordinator
  • How is your internship experience so far?
  • Final Presentations guidelines
8: Italian Fashion Pipeline. 

From the “IES Guest Lecture Series”: Why the Italian Fashion Pipeline is unique in the world? From the spinning process to the complex retail system of Milan – by Alessandra Guffanti.

  • Alessandra Guffanti, born in 1977, before getting her master degree in Law in Milan, has been studying at the German School.
  • She is the owner of Showroom Guffanti ( Tricodor srl), founded in 1989 by her father which is exclusive distributor of Italian and international fashion brands of clothing and accessories in women, men, children and wedding dresses. Their customers are having high-ended multi/mono brand stores, department stores or doing e-commerce in Italy ( from 1989), Russian area (from 2008) and Asia ( from 2010).
  • At the beginning of her carrier, Alessandra’s responsibilities were communicating to all the suppliers (fashion brands) in Europe and USA. From 2000 Tricodor srl developed from agent to distributor by opening its internal logistic.
  • From 2003 she moved to Rome in order to open another showroom and visit regularly all the customers in mid/southern of Italy.
  • Alessandra began doing the international development in 2008. In 2 years Alessandra visited more than 50 cities around the ex Soviet area (Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan , etc) developing a turnover in sales of which is today the 40% of the global volume.
  • Currently, Alessandra is doing new development strategy in Asia. Since 2010 she did a summer school in Shanghai and started to have frequent business trips for meeting customers in China, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore.
  • The headquarter showroom is located in the centre of Milan. There are Italian, Russian and Asian mother tongue teams inside the company. A multicultural approach and direct relation with the market are the company assets.
  • Alessandra Guffanti is the Vice-president of the Young Entrepreneur in Assolombarda (the industrial association of Milano) for the international relation and Counsellor in the Piccola Impresa of Assolombarda.
  • From 2013 she is national President of the Young Entrepreneur of Sistema Moda Italia, the Italian association of textile and fashion industry.
  • Entrepreneurship and networking attitude are her key characteristics.
  • “The history of Italian fashion” and “Why Italian fashion rules the world” pdf files of the course pack.
9: Field Study: visit to “Guffanti Moda” showroom
  • To complete our reflection on the Italian Fashion Pipeline, we’ll go visiting the Headquarter showroom of Guffanti Moda that is located in the centre of Milan. There are Italian, Russian and Asian mother tongue teams inside the company. A multicultural approach and direct relation with the market are the company assets.
  • This field study is combined with “Managing fashion and luxury companies” class.
10: Students’ Final Presentations – 1st Group
  • Create a ppt presentation on your internship experience in Milan: description, assessment, anecdotes. 
11: Students’ Final Presentations – 2nd Group
  • Create a ppt presentation on your internship experience in Milan: description, assessment, anecdotes. 


Required readings: 

The instructor will provide the student with a series of readings selected from the following books:

  • Larner M., Ward T. N., Living, Studying and Working in Italy, Owl Books, New York, U.S.A., 2003
  • Martinelli, Chiesi, Stefanizzi, Recent Social Trands in Italy 1960-1995, McGill-Queen’s University Press, Quèbec, Canada, 1999
  • Bull A., Corner P., From Peasant to Entrepreneur, Berg, Providence, U.S.A., 1993
  • Edward T. Hall & Mildred Reed Hall, Understanding Cultural differences, Intercultural Press, Yarmouth, Maine, 1990
  • John Haycraft, Italian Labyrinth, London, 1985