Getting Real

Partnerships let students explore their passions during innovative summer internships

Student interns gained invaluable real-world work experience this summer – at home and abroad thanks to collaborations the University has recently formed with corporate partners. While PSEG Institute for Sustainability Studies “Green Team” interns explored sustainable solutions with top Garden State companies, a noted Italian studio hired a Montclair State student in Florence, Italy, to work on audiovisual translation projects for internationally renowned Italian festivals. These latest partnerships add to a growing list of the University’s corporate partnerships that benefit Montclair State students.

Outdoor opera performance
A University partnership with Italy’s Prescott Studio provided a student with an opera surtitling internship in Florence. (Photo by Marco Borrelli)

Advancing sustainability in New Jersey

Whether majoring in political science or sustainability science, geology or accounting, the 35 members of PSEG’s Green Team were determined to address sustainability issues facing leading regional and global businesses.

“Every time I talk about this pilot program, I smile,” says Amy Tuininga, director of the PSEG Institute at Montclair State, who created the 10-week summer program. “This transdisciplinary initiative has been very important in terms of developing a model for productive academic-corporate-community partnerships.”

Green Team on rooftop garden at Cox Printers.
“Green Team” interns (shown here on a rooftop garden at Cox Printers) worked on sustainable solutions at several New Jersey companies, including Cox.

It has also benefited the students, who learned everything from industry best practices to corporate social responsibility.

Funded by the PSEG Foundation, the paid internship program paired seven teams of five students each with host corporations Bristol-Myers Squibb, Cox Printers, Greener by Design, NJM Insurance Group, PSEG, Prudential Global Investment Management Real Estate and Sabert.

“The Green Team is the kind of program we support to help students who are increasingly broadening their knowledge of the relationship between the environment, businesses and economy,” says PSEG Energy and Sustainability Policy Manager Angela Ortiz.

Solar panels.

“This program went far beyond any internship experience,” says public health major Leana Zeidan, a member of Greener by Design’s team. “We received hands-on experiences that we couldn’t have gotten anywhere else.”

In turn, host companies appreciated the opportunity to explore and develop custom-tailored sustainability solutions. For example, NJM Insurance departments were able to assess the sustainability of their operations and identify areas for improving efficiency.

Cox Printers team member Ralph Olacio, a sustainability science major, sees the Green Team as a bold step for the University. “It’s the first program of its kind in New Jersey to bring academia and the private sector together to promote and implement a truly sustainable future for all,” he says.

Green Team intern.

According to PSEG’s Ortiz, the energy company was seeking a fresh and unbiased perspective on new trends in sustainability reporting – and what should be publicly available and reported.

PSEG team member Abdiel Jimenez says working for the large electric company was illuminating. “As students, we don’t have enough experience to understand the corporate world,” he says. “But through this program, my team and I learned to understand it.”

Putting theory into practice

Students seldom participate in corporate boardroom conversations and presentations at Fortune 500 companies, but at Prudential Global Investment Management Real Estate, Karthika Priya Jayaprakash and her teammates were able to do just that.

“We got beyond theory to practice and got a ringside view into how corporations operate, how decisions must be quantified, how risk assessments are performed and the factors that drive policy,” she explains.

“Our participation in the program provided us with the opportunity to engage in projects outside of our typical day-to-day activities and also to challenge the students to find solutions for real-life sustainability issues,” recalls David DeVos, PGIM Real Estate vice president and global director of sustainability.

Jurisprudence, Law and Society major Emma Lavin joined the program to learn firsthand about energy efficiency. “We worked to help solve NJM’s sustainability issues such as finding new ways for them to decrease the yearly amount of energy they use,” she recalls.

Meeting of Green Team interns.
Students worked on sustainable solutions as “Green Team” interns.

Encouraged by the pilot program’s success, Tuininga plans to make it available again next summer. “We offered a great resource and practical deliverables to our corporate partners, while we brought students together from different disciplines who were able to build their resumes and network,” she says. “So far, the program has been a win-win situation all around – and we anticipate an even brighter future.”

Interning in Italy

Angelene Agresta had never traveled abroad before spending five weeks as an intern with Prescott Studio, which does subtitling and surtitling – or supertitling – for operas, plays and movies, in Florence, Italy. “Once I stepped off the plane, I felt this incredible tranquility,” she says.

Angelene Agresta at a Florence, Italy, opera house where she worked on surtitles
Angelene Agresta at a Florence, Italy, opera house where she worked on surtitles

Prior to her internship, Agresta had taken part as an undergraduate in Translating Voices Across Continents (TVAC), a collaboration between the Inserra Chair in Italian and Italian American Studies and Prescott Studio from May to October 2015. The international partnership produced English surtitles for nine plays and operas presented at the prestigious Piccolo Teatro of Milan during Expo 2015. “I enjoyed the challenge of translating from Italian into English, of maintaining not only the meaning but the nuances of the original text,” recalls Agresta, who graduated in 2016 with a degree in Italian.

With the guidance of Italian Studies Professor Marisa Trubiano, students had the unique opportunity to hone translating skills in a project that transcended national and cultural boundaries.

“The partnership exposed students of Italian to a dynamic professional sector in the humanities and enhanced their employability in the global marketplace,” says Inserra Chair Teresa Fiore. “Perhaps more importantly, it offered an opportunity to make the students’ classroom work relevant and useful to the outside world.”

Opera performance in a theater with surtitles.

Students in Trubiano’s fall 2016 course, Italian Translation for Tourism and Cultural Promotion, are gaining preprofessional experience by collaborating from Montclair State with Prescott Studio on revisions of surtitles of a Donizetti opera that will be performed at the Opera di Florence – as well as subtitling clips of a documentary by Italian director Andrea Segre.

“This exciting student work is instrumental to cultural travelers from all over the world,” explains Fiore. “Surtitles expand audience enjoyment of live performances.”

An international partnership

Crediting the synergy between Prescott Studio and the University with the TVAC project’s success, Prescott Studio director Mauro Conti renewed his partnership with the Inserra Chair and the Italian program in 2016 to offer the innovative, five-week, on-site internship.

“We received hands-on experiences that we couldn’t have gotten anywhere else.”

Leana Zeidan, Intern

Agresta is currently pursuing her master’s degree in French Studies with a focus on translation at Montclair State. “When I was introduced to audiovisual translation, that definitely helped me narrow my path in the field,” she explains, adding that working on-site was a transformative experience. “That’s when everything I had learned up to that point finally clicked and made sense.”

The internship clicked with Conti as well. “The contribution of intern students is a great opportunity to test our systems of linguistic mediation for live theater,” he says. “It also allows us to benefit from fresh technical and creative input from the future generation of professionals in the field. And we are looking forward to continuing our collaboration with Montclair State.”

A unique focus on translation

Montclair State’s focus on audiovisual translation is unique, according to Fiore. “There is so much potential in this field, as, propelled by social media, there is a growing need for trained translators and surtitlers.”

Agresta looks back at her summer experience with wonder. “Seeing my titles at the actual venues was very surreal,” she says. “It’s one thing to talk about how these titles are used during live performances at prestigious venues like the Arena di Verona.

And it’s another thing to actually see them projected during rehearsals. It’s very exciting that my work has been viewed by massive audiences on an international level.”

For Fiore, the partnership with Prescott Studio provides students with a unique preprofessional experience. “Our collaboration,” she says, “continues to open great partnerships with some of the most prestigious theaters in Italy.”