How Did I Get Here?

As my internship begins to wind down and the final weeks approach, I thought that I would take a moment to explain how I was fortunate enough to secure my summer internship.

At the end of the fall semester, I went into my Italian advisor and at the time teacher, Professor Luca Lanzilotta’s office to take my final oral exam for Italian 201.  After I had completed the exam, we discussed studying abroad in Bologna next year and he asked me what my plans were for the summer and if I would be interested in an Italian internship.  I told him that I was thinking about an internship but had not looked into an Italian one specifically.  He then explained to me how living in a big city like Chicago, there was a chance for me to work at  one of the branches of the Italian Chamber of Commerce, and went on to tell me about one of his past students who interned for the chamber in Houston, TX.  I told him that I was interested and would discuss it more with him and my parents after winter break.

Professor Lanzilotta continued to help me apply, interview, and ultimately secure my internship with the IACC.  He communicated with my supervisor via phone and email, and helped me set up an interview in early March during my spring break.  Throughout my application process, he frequently checked in on me to see how everything was going and always encouraged me to let him know if I needed help or had any questions.  In addition, he had told me about the possibility of receiving a grant for my unpaid internship, which are made possible by generous donations from Dickinson alumni and donors.  I submitted my application as soon as I had found out that I had gotten the internship, and was fortunate enough to receive a stipend to cover my food and transportation expenses.

I am incredibly grateful to Professor Lanzilotta, the Internship Notation Program staff at Dickinson, and the various donors who contribute to the program and allow students like myself to receive grants for unpaid internships.  Because of them, I am able to have a meaningful internship experience without having to stress too much about money.

 

The Authentic Italian Table

Last week was the first of the three main events that I will help plan throughout my internship, The Authentic Italian Table!  The three-day food expo features a total of 15 renowned Italian restaurants in the Chicago area as well as various food and wine sponsors.  The event aligns with the True Italian Taste Project to showcase  authentic Italian ingredients imported directly from Italy.

I began working with my co-workers on this event at the start of my internship through writing social media posts and a press release, as well as communicating with participating restaurants, sponsors, and musicians.  It was wonderful to see everything turn out so successfully this past week.  We had over 300 people attend the event across all three days and everyone seemed to enjoy the food, the music, and the company.  I was mainly in charge of greeting and checking guests in at the door but still had the chance to meet new people and taste the delicious food from some of Chicago’s best Italian restaurants.

My favorite part of the event (besides eating all of the great food) was being able to work alongside Luciana, who works at Ciao Chicago and is my new language partner!  She and I have agreed to meet once a week to practice my Italian and her English.   She and her family are from Bologna, Italy and were telling me all about the city when I informed them that I’ll be studying abroad there next semester.  She and I speak mostly Italian and while it is challenging at times, she is very encouraging of me as I am with her English.

Tortelloni di ricotta from 312 Chicago
My sister Ally was able to come to the event with me
The photobooth featured many of the authentic Italian products used by the restaurants
Me as “the bouncer” in charge of greeting guests, checking them in on the event app, and answering any and all questions people had upon arrival.

There are two more events happening in June and I am looking forward to being a part of them!

First Day

Ciao a tutti!

My name is Caity Kirchberg and welcome to my blog for my internship with the Italian-American Chamber of Commerce Midwest (IACC)!  I am a rising junior at Dickinson and am currently majoring in English and minoring in Italian.   This summer I have the privilege of working as a communications intern with the IACC in my hometown of Chicago, IL.

My first day on the job was very exciting and got off to a bit of a stressful start because of some commuting issues.  While I am no stranger to public transportation, which I took every day to get to and from high school, I am still getting used to the new route from my house to the West Town neighborhood of Chicago where I work every day.

Luckily, I made it to work on time and was warmly greeted by my supervisor, Silvia, and the rest of the members at Ciao Chicago, an event space used by the IACC.  After meeting everyone and getting a tour of the beautiful space, I learned a bit more about what tasks I would be completing throughout my internship, specifically how I will be helping with the upcoming events the IACC has in June and July.

My first day included research for a food and wine masterclass led by a chef

My desk at Ciao Chicago, the event space used by the IACC and where I work every day

and sommelier from the restaurant RPM Italian in Chicago.  The masterclass includes educational presentations about the significance of authentic Italian products, specifically the DOP and IGP certifications, as well as a delicious food and wine tasting of traditional dishes from Veneto, Italy.  I was able to discuss my research to my supervisor and begin working with her on a formal program for the masterclass to present to the guests from RPM as well as higher executives in the IACC.

One of my favorites parts of my first day was learning how to use the office espresso machine.  Annalisa, a graphic designer for the IACC, made me my first small espresso after I told her that I had never tried it before, and told me that once I started drinking espresso every day that it would be difficult to stop.  So far she’s been right because I have had one almost every day since then!

Everyone in the office is very welcoming and speaks Italian all of the time.  They speak mostly English to me right now, but assured me that by the end of my internship, we will have improved so that I will be ready when I study abroad in Bologna, Italy next semester.  June is a very busy month for the IACC filled with different events and I am looking forward to participating in them all!