lost in translation.

Today started with hope, excitement, and a little red lipstick.

It ended with laughter, confusion, and gelato.

Actually, this is how most of my days begin and end. But the events in between were completely unlike anything else I’ve experienced so far in Rome, much less my life.

The first glance at my iPhone this morning told me what I already knew, “Internship Interview @ MAXXI: 4PM”.

Outfit selected, answers rehearsed, resumes printed, and directions memorized, I was totally ready for my interview for an in-house communications internship at Rome’s recently completed and highly acclaimed modern art musuem. 

I’ll save you the suspense – I didn’t get the internship, by more than a long shot. 

From the start, we should have known it would all be a complete wash. I’m so lucky to say we, because I didn’t have to go about my afternoon alone. Two other friends and students, Haley and Sarah, also were interviewing. There was mention of multiple positions, and we were more than happy to travel together, wait for each other, and generally not have to experience MAXXI alone. 

If there was one thing that went right today, it was that we were all together.

And the bus came on time, which is always a reason to count your stars in Italy. 

Arriving at the museum, we were giddy and excited. Unlike the centuries-old style of the Rome we know, MAXXI is a three-year-old museum with a look twenty years in a future. It’s massive, with innovative and intriguing exibits. We belonged here. We had to get this internship. 

And besides the museum being a modern marvel, we did have to get this internship. It’s week four of school, and we still haven’t been placed. Verging on desperate here, people.

Things first started to go wrong when a limited-English receptionist send us off to a different desk, where after explaining again our purpose, she smiled and said she would let our someone know we were here.

Good, right? Then she got a confused look on her face and told us we would have to pay an admission fee. To which we were like, what? Cue the first of many awkward multiple second silences for the afternoon.

After clearing that up, we waited for an hour, got worried, and again spoke with our receptionist who this time just told us to head on back. Welp, ok. We then left the building and went in to the head offices – strangely resembling temporary classrooms in storage units.

Our interview with the man we prepared for lasted about 15 seconds, until a call left us in the room with the sister of Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada. I feel bad saying that, because maybe we just got off on the wrong foot.

Like when she started speaking Italian at a million miles per hour. Cue another awkward multiple-second-silence once she realized we were not following. Or even on the same route, for that matter.

Though we came with extensive background in communications, we were quite obviously worthless to her once we exposed our unilingual capabilities. It went from being an interview on communcation to one major miscommunication.

But boy, did we sell ourselves. Thank you, SJMC, for teaching me how to plow through a tough interview, when eye contact and general employer interest are completely absent. Or in our case, an interview for a position we were in no way able (or interested) in fufilling. 

So after reasserting that we cannot translate press releases from Italian to English (engaging way to spend a semester, I know), we were cooly dismissed.

That cue was when she said, “I think my decision is quite clear”, which means we got it, right? Fingers crossed for Monday when she emails us! 

Walking out of that awkward cubicle and back on to the streets of Rome, none of us knew whether to laugh or cry.

Luckily, we all laughed. What a mess. 

Though I certainly am still without an internship and quite let down, I can’t say that my efforts were wasted. Sure, we were all a complete misfit for that internship. Sure, we spent 90% of our time in the lobby.  But we do learn something from everything, and today I learned how important it is to treat everyone with the upmost of respect.

I don’t want to sit here and complain about other peoples actions any more than you want to hear it. But I will say that after today, I will be grateful for every interview I recieve the rest of my career and every potential employer who takes the time to really review my resume and has an interest in what I have to present. And I know that because of this experience, some day when I sit in the big chair, ready to interview a nervous 20-something, I’ll be kind, engaged, and open-minded. 

It’s so easy to form inaccurate judgements of those around us, and it’s easy to look down on people before taking the time to see them as an equal. But people often deserve a break, and always deserve a chance. Professional hierarchy aside, we all have something to learn from every person we meet. Don’t ever cheat yourself of that chance. 

And even when there are major miscommunications – please be kind to one another.

And when all else fails, find the nearest gelato shop and order yourself a cone with pistaccio and stracciatella. 

Ciao, for now. 

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