A native of Williamstown, Mass., Matthew Kleiner is currently a rising junior at Yale University. A self-described Italophile, Matthew’s love of Italy and the Italian language began when he was just ten years old, during a family vacation to Rome and the nearby region of Umbria.
After that fateful vacation, Matthew and his family returned to Italy many times, including a one year stay in Rome during his father’s sabbatical year. It was in this year that Matthew attended a local Roman high school as an auditor, forever solidifying his connection to Italy and his grasp of the Italian language. On his connection to Italy, Matthew commented, “If I go out of the [United States] I usually just travel here, because for me it feels like a second home.”
Since high school, Matthew has found different ways to return to Italy on his own. Last summer as a rising sophomore, he participated in an immersive summer program near Bologna. Most recently, he came to Temple University Rome in May 2019 as the inaugural participant in the new Full-Time Summer Internship Program.
As part of this 2-month summer program, and with help from his Temple Rome faculty mentor Jocelyn Cortese, Matthew had the opportunity to gain real international working experience. The program was created to allow students to develop real-world professional skills, such as cross-cultural communication, without the added pressure or cost of a for-credit course load.
An English major interested in pursuing journalism in the future, Matthew spent his summer in Rome interning alongside the editorial staff of a premier English-language tourism publication. Before returning home, Matthew sat down with Temple Rome staff member AJ Fitzgerald to discuss his experience working abroad. Read on for Matthew’s firsthand account of this brand-new program.
Q & A
Q: Ciao Matthew! To start off, what kind of company did you intern for this summer, and in what capacity?
I interned for a global company that basically does tourism and travel magazines for different cities. There’s a bunch [of cities] in the US, a bunch in Europe, and a bunch in Australia. I’m working at the Rome office right now.
It’s a small office, about six to 10 people, but half the people I’d say are mainly involved with talking to advertisers and getting that legal stuff worked out. I’m basically exclusively working with the editorial side of it.
Q: Were most of your colleagues Italian? What was it like working in an international office setting?
I have one boss who’s American but has lived in Rome for 15 years. She’s directly above me and gives me my assignments. But then there’s other Italian staff, and they write articles as well. A lot of stuff written for the magazine starts out in Italian, and then [my boss] translates a lot of it. They’ve given me several translation assignments already.
From the moment I got there, I felt like I could be of value, which was great. But also everyone there really welcomed me and wanted to talk to me. I didn’t feel like I was intruding when I wanted to practice speaking Italian with people. It was a very comfortable environment.
Q: Are you happy with your experience so far? What kind of projects have you been working on?
Very happy with it. I’m there in the office full time three days a week, and then one of the other days I usually travel around the city to report on something. Right now I’m actually writing a second article for August about some of the nicest pools to visit, so I’ve been to a couple of cool pools around the city.
I’m also writing an article for September about the historic Roma and Lazio neighborhoods [in the city], because I’m really into Italian soccer. I was in Parioli the other day, and we live in Prati, which is another Lazio neighborhood. And I went to Testaccio as well.
I think the most important part for me is to be able to experience Rome in ways that I wouldn’t have been able to without [the magazine]. That’s what I really admired about them even before I came here, what I was seeing online wasn’t just another guidebook to Rome, they actually write articles about hidden corners and they try to give you a really interesting history. I feel like you can experience places through words, you don’t necessarily need to travel there. And I think that what’s cool about [the magazine]. You can read an article, and even if you don’t end up going to that place, you learn something about Rome and Rome’s history.
Q: What was it like living in the University Residence? Did you feel supported by the Temple Rome Student Life staff?
Orientation was really nice, and the trip to Todi was pretty incredible. That meal [in Titignano] was pretty incredible.
I was surprised to see how good [the residence] was when I arrived. I didn’t realize it would be kind of a hotel style with air conditioning. I expected a summer in Rome in a dormitory: like yeah, this could be sweaty. But when I got there, it was really nice. I had my own little kitchen, so I spent a lot of time in my room where I expected not to.
And I met [other students], several really cool Temple students both through the orientation and the residence. I had considered a homestay because I thought it would be good to have a full immersive experience, but in the end I figured that it would be nicer to have a network of students around. So I’ve been really happy with the way that turned out.
Q: What’s the involvement of Prof. Cortese been like?[Prof. Cortese] has been really great. It seems that she has a network already set up which is really nice, because I never knew what to expect. When I arrived here, I already had stuff to do immediately. [Prof. Cortese] has been checking up with me often, and I met with her in person a couple of times. She’s always been there to help me with what I need to get done: in terms of paperwork, in terms of setting me up in the residence, setting up the internship. Everything.
Q: Any last thoughts you’d like to say on the record? Having nearly completed the program now, would you do it all over again?
Yeah, I would definitely recommend it. I came in asking to be in Rome. And you know, there’s not that many [options]. Not many who specifically said, “Oh, you want to be in Rome? We will set you up in Rome.” Temple Rome is the place that did that, nobody else.
A couple places were like, “Oh, yeah, you’re interested in possibly doing a writing internship, maybe we can look for one for you.” But [Prof. Cortese] was like, we have 30 different connections. Let’s start that now. And so yeah, I wanted to be in Rome, I wanted to have something to do, something that I could put on my CV but also that would be useful and interesting to me. And Temple Rome was able to set that up. So if you want to have an internship, and you want to live in and experience Rome, I think it’s perfect.