ACCENT on Internships: Event Planning in Florence
Courtney Ricci has clear career objectives in mind and has created her own educational path to reach them. A student at the University of Minnesota, Courtney aims to specialize in contract law and represent professional athletes and coaches.
To get there, she took an assistant’s position in a law firm during a gap year, created her own major through the University’s Individualized Studies program, and amassed an impressive résumé of event management work with NHL and MLB teams and the X Games, an experience that has laid the foundation for a solid network in the sporting world. This fall, she finally fulfilled her dream of studying in Italy.
Courtney explains that her choice of the Florence program was linked to curiosity about her own Italian heritage and especially to the internship opportunities available. “I need to work, it’s just something I really enjoy,” she says, “and an internship brings you so much closer to understanding European and Italian culture.” While Florence is not a sporting capital by any means, Courtney’s internship placement allowed her to further refine her event management skills and challenged her to, in her own words, “approach problems from multiple perspectives, open my mind, and trust myself.”
“How hard can it be to plan a wedding? I’ve planned events for over 25,000 people,” she thought upon receiving her placement at Savvy Event Studio. She soon found out. Savvy is a small event company based in Florence and this year, they organized thirteen luxury weddings in multiple locations, from historic castles to the shores of Lake Como. “I was happy to be working for a company founded by a woman and soon realized how much overlap there is across different types of event planning. It was a phenomenal experience.”
In her role, Courtney was challenged to amplify the company’s social media presence, leaving behind a legacy of new tools and strategies to generate business. Admitting that she knew little about social media strategy when starting, she “learned by making mistakes and getting it right the second time” and “doing more research than [she] ever thought possible to curate the pages’ aesthetics.” To that end, she credits professor Francesca Passeri’s Retail Merchandising course with her increased understanding of Made in Italy branding and the key elements of Italian culture, craftsmanship, and materials central to the vision of Italy in the hearts of Savvy’s clients.
She also wrote blog posts and worked closely with the Savvy team to coordinate three different weddings during her semester in Florence, providing day-of support, liaising with vendors and assisting the team in every task from set-up to guiding guests, even carrying the bride’s train during a photo session.
Now back on campus in Minnesota, Courtney is ready for her next challenge in a more familiar world: event work with Super Bowl LIII and the NCAA Basketball Championship.
ACCENT partners with U.S. colleges and universities to design and support customized internship programs with placements matched to students’ experience and goals, complemented by a Workforce Course in which students reflect on socioeconomic factors impacting work, cultural difference, personal growth, and career planning. To learn more about customized semester programs with ACCENT, explore some examples here.