As the combined major in Italian and Business at Montclair State approaches its inaugural launch in Fall 2019, the Italian program with the support of the Inserra Endowment can already count on a variety of opportunities for Montclair State students in the area of Made in Italy. Among them, an established summer/winter internship at the Italian Trade Agency of New York and at Choose New Jersey in Princeton continues to reward students interested in internationalizing their studies, especially those concentrating in Business.
During the summer 2018 edition, Talia Antonacci, a Montclair State student majoring in Italian and minoring in Business, completed the summer portion at ITA, the commercial branch of the Italian Consulate, just off Park Avenue. This portion consists in joining one or more specialized teams at the ITA to gain knowledge of the Made in Italy presence in the Tri-State area. Talia worked with ITA’s Food and Wine Department supervised by Gioia Gatti. Besides organizing data about producers, distributors, store owners and even bloggers active in this sector, she helped coordinate activities and events, such as the Italian Wine: Taste the Passion campaign. “I learned very much about grape varieties, different wines, regions, vintage, and SRP (suggested retail price).” The last part of the internship also included an activity supervised by Alessandro Greco, Head of the Fashion Sector at ITA. Talia, who has worked part-time in this industry outside of school, visited the fashion show Coterie at New York in September.
”Interning at the Italian Trade Agency has provided me with the opportunity to learn more in depth about the world of viniculture and the international business that surrounds it,” Talia stated. “I am fortunate to have been able to get a feel for business in real-life situations: I am now more comfortable using the Italian language in a business setting both orally and in writing, and I am also more efficient with relevant tools such as Excel and WordPress. I have had several wonderful mentors oversee my work in the promotion of Italian trade, and felt very welcomed by the entire staff at ITA. In the future I intend to find a job in marketing or event planning: this internship has represented a unique experience to lay the foundation for what is to come.”
As Maurizio Forte, Director and Ferdinando Gueli, ITA Head of Information, Investments and Start Up, at the Italian Trade Agency of New York remarked: “This summer ITA hosted a second internship in the framework of our cooperation with Montclair State University, launched in 2017. The two students we hosted so far, Emma Rush (see 2017-18 report) and Talia Antonacci, were involved enthusiastically in our daily efforts to create more business connections between Italy and the US as well as to develop the knowledge of authentic Made in Italy products among US consumers. They both proved to be highly qualified both in language and technical skills: their contribution, though limited in time, has been remarkable and beyond expectations. We really believe that this cooperation is based on a mutual advantage and we are glad to share similar views and values on what the Inserra Chair program is carrying ahead.”
The second part of the internship took place at another prestigious office, Choose New Jersey located in Princeton, NJ, during Winter and Spring 2019. In this equally dynamic environment, the intern’s skills were applied to Italian business in the specific context of New Jersey which hosts one of the largest concentrations of Italian business headquarters in the U.S. Talia provided support in the development of CNJ’s new website and the preparation of presentation materials for a business trip to Italy. For the second year in a row, CNJ has taken one of our students overseas for Select USA, which this year covered (Rome, Milan and Vicenza) and once again involved panels with US government representatives, including the US Ambassador to Italy, and businesses who have chosen to expand their operations in the US, and in particular NJ.
Margie Piliere, the CNJ liaison, was extremely pleased about a successful collaboration with Talia: “We had an extremely busy three days – we met with over 35 businesses in 20 minute intervals. Some spoke English, however, there were others who did not feel comfortable with English, so Talia translated for us. She was such a great help with her language skills and professionalism. We have truly enjoyed working with her for the past few months.”
“I am so grateful to have had the unique opportunity to work with Choose NJ where I learned so much about what our state has to offer to foreign businesses regarding our educated workforce, infrastructure, opportunity zones, tax incentives, and perfect location. I was able to travel and work first-hand in encouraging and assisting Italian companies looking to expand in our state, communicate directly with these companies to provide information, and assist Margie with translating. I was thrilled to be able to use my language skills and my knowledge of both Italian and American business trends in an organic, real-life setting, after learning about them in my Italian classes about business and culture at Montclair State. It was also informative to hear the personal experiences of businesses, who have already expanded in the States, the obstacles they have faced, and the success they have found here,” Talia states in her final report.
This internship was supported by a $5,000 Lawrence R. Inserra Jr. Scholarship, which is administered by the Inserra Chair via the Montclair State U Foundation. “After the first successful edition in 2017, the Inserra Chair and ITA decided to continue with this endeavor which allows an institution of higher education like Montclair State to provide pre-professional opportunities to students, and a prestigious partner like ITA to train future professionals in concrete ways,” Teresa Fiore (Inserra Chair) pointed out. “The creation of the Inserra Endowed Chair, thanks to our donor and Board of Trustees member, Mr. Larry Inserra, has defined a space of fruitful experimentation to address the question ‘What is the role of foreign languages and cultures in today’s university studies?’ in the specific field of Italian and Italian American Studies. Internships such as this one, included in a broader initiative linking the study of the Italian language and culture with the Made in Italy business sector, are an innovative response as they expose students to the complex intersection of national products and global markets while emphasizing the role of cultural awareness (read about other internships).