Buffalo State senior business major Alyssa Fuentes wanted real-world experience as part of her path toward graduation. She found that last summer with a small company that not only gave her hands-on experience, but also happened to be located in Milan, Italy.
“I wanted to work in the international market and also to experience a new culture,” said Fuentes, who found the junior export manager position with the International Advising Network Group (IANG) through the organization Global Experiences. “I’m so grateful I did. It was the best opportunity of my life.”
Fuentes, who serves as a brand ambassador to Sigma Beta Delta, the international honor society for business, management, and administration, discovered one of some 180 internships available to business majors.
“The learning experience was invaluable and uniquely complemented Alyssa’s international business degree,” said Lynne M. Scalia, associate professor of business and the college’s business internship coordinator. “I’m very proud of her.”
Approximately 60 to 70 Buffalo State junior and senior business majors land internships each academic year. To qualify, they must take certain business courses, hold a 2.7 or higher grade point average, and complete mandatory Career Development Center workshops. Then it’s up to them to connect with the companies and apply.
“I’m finding that students are doing two or three internships and really marketing themselves,” said Scalia, who has overseen the internship program since 1990. “They’ve come to realize they need to make themselves stand out when they start applying for jobs.”
Fuentes certainly will.
Although she knew no Italian, she downloaded an app to familiarize herself with the language prior to arriving in Milan. She also studied up on Italian business culture and etiquette. That research came in handy. At lunch on her first day, her colleagues asked her what she knew about Italian culture. She said they were impressed with her answers.
By the end of the internship, Fuentes had a firm grasp of the language, Euro statistics, and how a company such as IANG handles exports. She absorbed all this while taking two trains and bus—a two-and-a-half-hour commute—from her canal-side apartment to her office each day.
“It was hard, but I knew I was going to be a stronger person when I finished,” said Fuentes, who is completing her last two Buffalo State courses online from her Long Island, New York, home. She’s also in the process of applying to law schools for fall 2019 and searching for a local internship this spring. She hopes to run her own import/export business some day and serve as the company’s legal counsel.
“The biggest takeaway from my Milan experience is to take every opportunity that comes your way,” Fuentes said. “No matter what happens in life, you must make the best of a situation and learn all that you can.”