There are different ways of looking at Italian Studies….: one way is to explore the application of these studies to the philosophy and practices of an eyewear company invested on inter-cultural communication, such as the established Italian company, Safilo. The first edition of the internship at Safilo was completed by Italian major Teresa LeDonne in Summer 2019 through the Inserra Paid Internship Program. Teresa LeDonne is an Italian major with a background in the corporate world, who is now pursuing a new academic path and professional opportunities in order to operate in a more international environment, such as the Italian business sector in our area. Safilo – Società Azionaria Fabbrica ltaliana Lavorazione Occhiali – is a well-established company with a major international presence: founded in 1934 by subsuming a pre-existing factory opened in Cadore in 1878, Safilo has its main headquarters in Padova, Italy, and its U.S. offices in Secaucus.
At Safilo Teresa LeDonne was involved in several projects and with different teams during her internship, from Procurement to Human Resources. She utilized her cross-cultural competency to develop materials aimed at improving the communication among employees with diverse backgrounds. In the process, she improved her fluency in Italian through interviews in Italian with staff members.
For example, in collaboration with Human Resources and Training and Development, she finalized interviews with Safilo’s employees, both expatriates and Americans. Data results were mapped and presented to the Human Resources team for understanding how to assist and support future expatriates who will be coming to the U.S.. With the same department, she also designed training materials on Intercultural Solutions in business focusing on Italian and American Cultures and their respective communication styles, and also created cultural fact sheets on both Italian and American cultures. Finally, she worked on recruitment strategies and processes to align them with Safilo’s goals.
This was a very productive experience for LeDonne. As she remarked, “The Inserra Internship Program is a wonderful opportunity for Montclair students. It has been a pleasure to work at Safilo in such a collaborative environment as the team has put much thought into an engaging and realistic hands-on program based on the strengths and learning requests of the individual intern. I have been working on diverse and challenging projects with a focus on identifying ways to improve an expatriate’s on-boarding experience and also helping design support materials and resources on cultural styles focusing on business practices of Americans and Italians to bridge the gaps.”
Stefania DiPalma, one of the two supervisors of Teresa LeDonne at Safilo along with Chiara Pierangelo, offered strong support for this new internship: “As the world’s second largest Italian eyewear manufacturer with offices located throughout the globe, we can expose student interns to a multi-cultural business environment with employees who hail from many different countries and ethnic backgrounds. Students have the opportunity to learn about various aspects of our industry and roll-up their sleeves to partake in day-to-day business activities – all the while engaging and developing relationships with our employees on a more personal level. We are proud to partner with Montclair State University students through the Inserra Paid Internship program, among others, and to give them the opportunity to see how a truly global organization functions and operates.”
The partnership with Safilo has roots in a seminal meeting organized and sponsored by the Inserra Chair that prompted the genesis of a more established approach to Italian Business at MSU, including the development of a new combined major called Language, Business and Culture. As Dr. Teresa Fiore (Inserra Chair) stated, “The relationship with Safilo started in the course of a meeting held on the MSU campus in 2017 with roughly 20 Italian companies in the NY-NJ area. The exchange with them has created a dynamic network of contacts, and the definition of unique opportunities for our students, such as this paid internship program aimed at truly supporting our students’ efforts. All these companies have allowed us to look at Italian language and culture through a different lens, but with Safilo this process soon became particularly … clear and visible!”