Professional Lessons from Florence

One of the most influential experiences that has contributed to my professional development as a business student while in Florence has been my project for my Analyzing and Exploring the Global City course. For this project, we were assigned a neighborhood outside of the City Center of Florence (the area we live in where most of the tourists spend their time) and we were told to explore it. My group was assigned Gavinana, and we visited this town twice. We paid particular attention to details such as green space, trash collection, job postings, etc. to really understand the heartbeat of the town. We noticed lots of differences between Gavinana and the City Center, the most apparent ones being that there is a lot more green and trees, there are a lot more cars, it is much calmer and quieter, and most people do not speak English. The latter was the most difficult yet rewarding aspect of our visit, as we had to conduct interviews with the inhabitants. However, we quickly noticed that they speak very little or no English. None of my group members spoke Italian, so we had to adapt. Google Translate helped us a lot, and the conversations were difficult, but ultimately we were able to learn a lot about Gavinana and the City Center through these interviews. 

I learned a few things from this experience. First, it reinforced that I should not make assumptions. Just because I have a grasp of the general way of life in the City Center, it does not mean that I should assume everywhere outside of it is the same. In business, and in life, it is important to not make assumptions and to draw accurate conclusions based on experience. I also learned to be incredibly observant. Things like trash collection, job postings, and the sounds of the town are not things I would normally focus on when I am taking a stroll around Oakland. However, even these seemingly insignificant details can tell a story and are not so insignificant after all. In business, it’s important to pay close attention to detail and analyze every aspect of a case or scenario. Finally, the interviews provided transferable skills such as quickly adapting to situations, staying focused, and being patient. We did not anticipate the people we interviewed not knowing English, but we quickly adjusted and despite it being difficult, we were patient with each person we spoke to and stayed focused on our goal. 

Even though I am not taking a business course nor am I in an internship program, this study abroad experience has still provided me with many lessons and insights that transfer to my professional life as a business student.

– Alexis Hammer