From COVID-Crisis to Career Confidence: How USAC’s Remote Internship Empowered My Career

Ty Moye is a senior at the University of Idaho majoring in International Business. Ty shares his experience studying abroad in Shanghai, China and interning virtually with an events and party planning business, The Italian Planners through USAC’s Global Perspectives Program. 

It was January 6. I hopped on my plane with a one-way ticket resting between the pages of my passport. I was departing from rural Idaho and headed to one of the biggest cities in the world, Shanghai, China. “What would it be like?” “Will the city be too overwhelming?” “What if I get lost and can’t communicate with anyone?” With all the uncertainty, I knew one thing for sure — fulfilling the requirements for my International Business degree in Shanghai would provide me with a distinctive edge in the global marketplace. I couldn’t wait to get lost in Shanghai’s concrete jungle.  

Upon arrival, I was immediately hypnotized by the city. Shanghai is massive. Shanghai is mesmerizing. Shanghai is the epitome of a modern-day mega-metropolis. And now, Shanghai was my home.  

Traveling to Shanghai with USAC was one of the best decisions I have ever made. The Chinese business professors were passionate about teaching foreigners about their cultural business practices, and my peers were excited to soak up every bit of knowledge they could. Every day, my perspective of China changed, and I began to fall in love with a country I was intimidated by. I quickly began to feel like I was home in a city of over 25 million people.  

Then, we heard about a Coronavirus spreading throughout Wuhan. Overnight, everything changed. 

Our USAC directors did a fantastic job of taking the virus news seriously and keeping us updated as we isolated in our dorms. However, a few days after we learned about the virus, our program was terminated, and we knew we needed to leave China sooner rather than later.  

Fast-forward four months to where I was quarantining in Idaho. Every day, terrifying news of COVID-19 seemed to build upon itself and I began to grow uncertain about my career. I had planned to intern my junior year in China, and now, I was lost and confused. American companies seemed uncertain, too as no one was willing to take on an intern during the beginning of the pandemic. However, I was determined I would find an internship in digital marketing.  

That’s when USAC came back into my life, and subsequently changed the course of my career.  

Enter The Italian Planners: A Global Perspectives Virtual Digital Marketing Internship 

USAC emailed me and let me know that they decided to continue their summer virtual internship program. Luckily, it was going to be remote. After applying, a USAC representative reached out and asked me what my career goals were and what I was hoping to gain from my virtual internship. I told him I was looking for a career in digital marketing after graduation, and that I had already taught myself a wide range of digital marketing skills during my free time in quarantine. Just before getting off the phone, he told me, “I think we have the perfect opportunity for you.” Little did I know the truth behind those words. 

USAC matched me with Italian businesswoman Claudia Fanini. Claudia is an entrepreneur, digital marketer and the creative mind behind The Italian Planners. Based in Milan, The Italian Planners is the first destination event management agency to combine luxury events planning with travel experiences in Italy, specially tailored to international clientele looking for full-service support. 

From corporate events, destination weddings in Italy, birthday dinner parties, luxury events, and charity fundraising, The Italian Planners bring the best of Italy together to create a memorable experience for their clients.  

When I joined the team, The Italian Planners was going through a complete rebranding strategy, and I was tasked with conveying that new brand in a way Americans could appreciate. I started writing blog posts which gave me Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and WordPress skills.  

After gaining some confidence and understanding of the culture of the company, Claudia decided it was time to give me a more influential task. I was given the challenge of writing the entire frontpage of the website where my words would be the first impression potential clients would have of The Italian Planners. My words would determine whether potential clients would continue browsing through our website or stop in their tracks and leave. It was a very important task and I had never been given this much responsibility in any of my previous jobs. But Claudia trusted me, saw my hard work, appreciated my ability to write, and she knew I was more than capable of showcasing her business in the best light. Three drafts and 12 cups of espresso later, I presented my final draft to Claudia. I was terrified. I though back to the times in the past when my American bosses had been disappointed with me. I thought back to the time when I forgot to clean the crumbs under the fridge when I was a bus boy or when I forgot to deliver a customer’s coffee before their breakfast as a waiter. Had I overlooked any crumbs in my writing or completely forgotten to deliver Claudia her espresso? (I mean, Italians do love espresso!). 

All my overthinking was silenced the second Claudia called me. She thanked me and said she was very impressed with my work. She appreciated how quickly I had created the content, the tone of voice and the marketing techniques I wove throughout the writing. That day, I realized something about myself: as long as I put in effort, I can create a lot of value for a company. Not only that, but I realized digital marketing was my calling. I have never enjoyed a job so much. In a single summer, the opportunity granted to me from USAC allowed me to test out the waters of a digital marketing career and inspired me to dive into the career without hesitation.  

A Virtual Internship Turned International Career Portfolio

Although the scheduled period of my internship with The Italian Planners has ended, Claudia and I have continued working together. As a result, I have expanded my digital marketing skills and Claudia has given me a platform to apply any new skills that I have learned. Since interning with the Italian Planners, I have created two websites, written more than 30 blog posts and started my own blog (gaptheyear.com) that gives students the resources they need to successfully plan a Gap Year. Finally, this experience with The Italian Planners has stood out like a gold star on my resume. Employers love to see that I interned with an international business and that I was able to apply the hard skills associated with digital marketing.  

This experience has landed me interviews with a wide variety of businesses ranging from Fortune 500 companies to local startups. Every day, I am reminded of the incredible value my USAC virtual internship has given me. As a result, I now eagerly send my resume to potential employers, and confidently share my experiences during my job interviews.  

What Could An International Virtual Internship Do For You? 

This is the same opportunity that is potentially available to you. If you are interested in applying for USAC’s global internship this summer, you will find that it could potentially boost your career and confidence just like it did for me. Here’s some quick Internship advice I would give to you first.  

  1. Know what you want to do. You should have a solid idea of what you want to gain from your internship. Do you want to write? Be involved with marketing? Is there a skill you’ve always wanted to learn? Is there is a type of organization you’ve always been interested in working with? Knowing the answers to these questions will help USAC better match you with an internship that will mutually benefit you, your mentor and your career. 
  1. Work diligently and confidently. This is your chance to show yourself the amazing value YOU can give to an organization. Use this opportunity to work diligently and be confident that the work you are doing is appreciated and needed. 
  1. Take Initiative and be proactive. This one is possibly the most important. Take self-initiative! Do you have a recommendation for the organization? Do you see an area for improvement? Do you have a bright idea that could add more value? Add some research behind your proposals and send them over to your mentor. Whether the company decides to implement the changes or not, it will be greatly appreciated that you took the time to try and add value beyond what you’ve been asked to do.  
Learn more about USAC’s Global Perspectives Virtual Internship opportunities and be sure to apply for Summer 2021 by April 15, 2021.