Internship Reflection Article by Steven Waldorf Summer 2014

Approaching the exit doors of the Vatican Museums on my first day of work, I did not know what to expect from my internship at the Patrons Office.  Would filing papers and preparing coffee (or, this being Italy, cappuccino) be my only tasks, as with many internships for university-age men and women, or would I be doing work that made a more direct contribution to the mission of my employer?  And what would it be like working in the Apostolic Palace?  These were among the questions swirling in my head as I approached the elaborate travertine marble exit doors of the Musei Vaticani.  As soon as I entered the museums and was briskly escorted past the guards by a new colleague, however, I realized that this would be an internship like no other.  And indeed it was.

My primary responsibility over the course of the summer was to conduct research on philanthropic foundations to which the Patrons Office might apply for grant funding.  The office has long sought to make funding from foundations a larger and more regular source of its annual revenue, and early on in the course of the internship I was tasked with taking the first steps towards making this desire a reality.  Such latitude—the latitude to chart the course of my summer project and the latitude to do whatever I believed necessary to get the job done (a very important, substantive job, no less)— is highly unusual for university-level internships, and it made my work at the Patrons Office stimulating.  Ultimately, I succeeded in locating a sizeable number of foundations to which the Patrons can apply for grants in the immediate future and, just as importantly, in creating systematic procedures for researching foundations that can easily be utilized by my successors to continue finding promising foundations in the future.

My internship at the Patrons Office, however, was more than just office work.  Nearly every day I had the opportunity to meet and converse with interesting men and women from all walks of life, our Patrons, as they would ascend the steps of the Apostolic Palace to our office for cappuccino and conversation upon finishing their private tours of the Vatican.  I even had the opportunity to get to know some of these Patrons quite well, as a number of them came for week-long tours with their respective chapters.  For someone who, like me, thrives on interpersonal interaction, this aspect of the job, something which few other university-age interns get to do, was highly enriching.

Beyond the work itself, the benefits of working in the Vatican made the internship experience even more unique and memorable.  Private tours of the Sistine Chapel, dinner by candlelight in the classical statuary gallery of the museum, and receiving the salute of Swiss Guard soldiers on the way to work every morning made the internship truly unforgettable.  Finally, unlike most other internships, the staff of the Patrons Office took a genuine interest in fostering interns’ personal and spiritual development, as is fitting for an internship that involves working in the heart of the Church.  The director of the office, Fr. Mark Haydu, said Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for the interns on our first full day of work, and he even led a half-day retreat for us during the course of the internship.

Though sad to leave Rome at the end of my internship, I departed with many fond memories of my time at the Patrons Office, having grown personally, professionally, and spiritually.  For that growth, and for the wonderful opportunities which the internship afforded, I am most grateful to the Patrons Office.

Internship Reflection Article by Steven Waldorf Summer 2014

Approaching the exit doors of the Vatican Museums on my first day of work, I did not know what to expect from my internship at the Patrons Office.  Would filing papers and preparing coffee (or, this being Italy, cappuccino) be my only tasks, as with many internships for university-age men and women, or would I be doing work that made a more direct contribution to the mission of my employer?  And what would it be like working in the Apostolic Palace?  These were among the questions swirling in my head as I approached the elaborate travertine marble exit doors of the Musei Vaticani.  As soon as I entered the museums and was briskly escorted past the guards by a new colleague, however, I realized that this would be an internship like no other.  And indeed it was.

My primary responsibility over the course of the summer was to conduct research on philanthropic foundations to which the Patrons Office might apply for grant funding.  The office has long sought to make funding from foundations a larger and more regular source of its annual revenue, and early on in the course of the internship I was tasked with taking the first steps towards making this desire a reality.  Such latitude—the latitude to chart the course of my summer project and the latitude to do whatever I believed necessary to get the job done (a very important, substantive job, no less)— is highly unusual for university-level internships, and it made my work at the Patrons Office stimulating.  Ultimately, I succeeded in locating a sizeable number of foundations to which the Patrons can apply for grants in the immediate future and, just as importantly, in creating systematic procedures for researching foundations that can easily be utilized by my successors to continue finding promising foundations in the future.

My internship at the Patrons Office, however, was more than just office work.  Nearly every day I had the opportunity to meet and converse with interesting men and women from all walks of life, our Patrons, as they would ascend the steps of the Apostolic Palace to our office for cappuccino and conversation upon finishing their private tours of the Vatican.  I even had the opportunity to get to know some of these Patrons quite well, as a number of them came for week-long tours with their respective chapters.  For someone who, like me, thrives on interpersonal interaction, this aspect of the job, something which few other university-age interns get to do, was highly enriching.

Beyond the work itself, the benefits of working in the Vatican made the internship experience even more unique and memorable.  Private tours of the Sistine Chapel, dinner by candlelight in the classical statuary gallery of the museum, and receiving the salute of Swiss Guard soldiers on the way to work every morning made the internship truly unforgettable.  Finally, unlike most other internships, the staff of the Patrons Office took a genuine interest in fostering interns’ personal and spiritual development, as is fitting for an internship that involves working in the heart of the Church.  The director of the office, Fr. Mark Haydu, said Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for the interns on our first full day of work, and he even led a half-day retreat for us during the course of the internship.

Though sad to leave Rome at the end of my internship, I departed with many fond memories of my time at the Patrons Office, having grown personally, professionally, and spiritually.  For that growth, and for the wonderful opportunities which the internship afforded, I am most grateful to the Patrons Office.

Internship Reflection Article by Grace Linczer Summer 2014

If you ask any college student today, I am sure they would tell you that they have, at some point, been encouraged to pursue a summer internship. As a junior at the University of Notre Dame, it’s been impressed upon me by professors, peers, and professionals alike that the key word on every job application and resume is experience. This spring, I dutifully began applying for internships, assuming that I would end up making copies in a small, dank cubicle but would at least have a position. I received word that I had been chosen for an intern position with the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums and, having always wanted to live in Rome, eagerly accepted. Little did I know, as I packed up and prepared to fly to the Eternal City, that this internship was going to be unlike anything I expected. Sure enough, as I write this reflection 12 weeks later,  I am floored when  I think of all the fascinating people I have encountered and the incredible experiences I have had during my time with the Patrons of the Arts.

Working in Vatican City is unlike anything I have ever experienced. Every morning, as I walk along the corridors of the apostolic palace, I am humbled when I consider the great men and women of the Church who have walked there before me. Not only is it a truly fascinating place when considering its extensive history, but it is also stunningly beautiful.  From my walk into work past St. Peter’s Basilica and through the Vatican Museums, to the hours spent in the office with a panoramic view of Rome, I cannot turn my head without seeing a beautiful piece of art or architecture. I have gained such an appreciation for art since I arrived in Rome. Through spending time in the museums, writing articles about various projects, and watching restoration teams in action, I have come to appreciate how precious each piece is and how important the support of the Patrons community is in ensuring that this artwork be preserved. Hearing about Michelangelo’s technique during a private viewing of the Sistine Chapel, or seeing restorers remove layers of grime to reveal the underlying vivid colors in the Borgia Apartments – these are the unforgettable experiences that could never be duplicated elsewhere.

In this position I have met Patrons from all over the world – lawyers, bankers, journalists, professors, and many others who are united in a common passion for art. Since I hope to one day work in an international setting, I really value the professional guidance given to me by the staff of the Patrons office.  Because of their coaching, I was able to learn a lot about establishing and maintaining professional international relationships. I wrote and edited  many of the publications being disseminated to various Patrons and Chapters this summer, and I learned so much from the staff here about translating, editing, and writing.

I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to intern with this organization over the last 12 weeks. I gained a wealth of professional experience as was promised me by all of my professors and advisors. More than that, however, I am coming away from this summer with reinvigorated passion for faith and the arts. This has certainly been the most memorable summer, and I will always be so grateful to the Patrons of the Arts for making it possible.  Thanks especially to Carolina, Chiara, Sara, Romina, Maddie, and Fr. Mark for all you did to welcome me to the Patrons office this summer. It was a truly incredible experience!

 

Internship Reflection Article by Victoria Kasznica Summer 2014

My summer internship working for the Patrons of the Arts at the Vatican Museums has been transformative in every sense of the word, both from a personal and professional standpoint. As I complete the final few days of my internship and return to the United States to complete my final year of schooling, I will be leaving Rome carrying much more than my two suitcases. I carry friendships I forged with my fellow interns and other co-workers that I hope to maintain. I carry a knowledge of Italian art history and an Italian art lexicon that, considering my strict languages background, I never dreamed of acquiring. I carry a few more months of experience living in a foreign country that, though thousands of miles away from America, is now as close to my heart as my own home. Finally, from the Patrons internship, I carry away newly-gained knowledge of how to function and thrive in a collaborative work environment as well as invaluable experience as a translator and editor. Up until this internship, I was primarily accustomed to doing independent work. Throughout the course of my primary and secondary education as well as my music career, the game was very simple. I was taught that the time and effort I spent working on an essay, assignment, or musical piece would be reflected in the finished product. I would oversee the completion of a task from start to finish and ask for help and advice only when I most needed it. While this individualistic approach permitted for a good amount of autonomy and promoted self-reliance and determination, I now realize that it had its shortcomings. It is an approach that sheltered me from the challenge of engaging the innovative ideas and opinions of those around me. I have come to recognize that it is the willingness to entertain new ideas that nourishes knowledge and fosters appreciation and respect for that what may, at the time, seem unfamiliar and daunting to us. Arriving at the Patrons Office, I quickly learned that the job was all about cooperation, teamwork, and division of labor; the atmosphere was starkly different from the competitive, individualistic one I had so frequently encountered in the past. Consequently, I was quickly obliged to abandon my prior conditioning and to make some drastic changes to my work attitude. I concede that this was not easy. At first, nothing irritated me more than having to take orders and occasionally being told to start on a new task while leaving another unfinished…or worse yet, allowing colleagues to complete certain assignments, such as the edits for the texts I translated. For me, anything that either directly or indirectly causes a loss of control, triggers feelings of discontentment and distress. Little by little, however, as I started to gain trust in the capabilities and good intentions of those around me, things began to go more smoothly. By consulting together and setting our personal differences aside, my fellow interns and I were able to navigate around obstacles, find creative solutions to the problems that arose, and help the Patrons of the Arts organization in a constructive and efficient way. I would say that, on the whole, I managed to adapt rather well to the new work environment. What fascinates me most about my Patrons of the Arts job was my role translating and editing articles for the Wishbook as well as Fr. Mark’s upcoming book Angels: Mediations on Vatican Art. While at the basic level, I was merely translating fragments of Italian text into English, incorporating and eliminating a few words here and there, and restructuring sentences; however, I soon learned that I was, in effect, doing much more. I was bridging the language and communication gap between the native Italian authors of the texts and the Anglophone readers of the Patrons of the Arts publications. Furthermore, I was taking the knowledge of art history scholars and restoration experts and, through careful selection of vocabulary and stylistic modifications, making the information readily accessible and more appealing to those who know little or nothing about the field. I sincerely wish that my contributions to the Patrons of the Arts publications will help the organization in its mission to promote a deeper connection between individuals and the artwork housed within the Vatican Museums. I hope that when people, regardless of their background, race, or country of origin, leaf through the Wishbooks original message. It is the essence of the text that matters most and what must be transmitted as the text is translated across different languages The Patrons internship has been a beautiful experience, one that has allowed me to grow as a person and as a scholar. Few individuals can say that they worked with a team of warm, intelligent, and spirited people in an idyllically-situated office, surrounded by some of the world’s premier artwork. Fewer still can say that they were privy to a VIP, insider’s tour of the ongoing restoration of the Borgia apartments or the excavations at the Santa Rosa Necropolis. Should the Patrons of the Arts ever need language, translating, and editing assistance in the future, I will be delighted to help out in any way possible.

Internship Reflection Article by Thomas Hite Summer 2014

I arrived on a sunny Monday morning to the Vatican Museums, a bit later in the summer than the other interns due to another commitment immediately following school, and met one of the other interns at the Exit door, the Patrons entrance, to be brought up to the office.  After meeting Carolina, Sara, Maddie, Chiara and Romina, I was given a brief introduction, lasting maybe half an hour, and then told to go meet the Belgian Patrons.  Here, the whirlwind that has been this internship began, and one mind blowing experience has followed another— private tour of the Sistine Chapel, dinner in the Greek and Roman section, walk through the Vatican gardens, exploration of a Roman gravesite, back room passages between St. Peter’s and the Patrons office, crossing paths with the Pope within the walls of Vatican city. All of this while meeting Swiss guards, priests, dignitaries, tourists, and Patrons from all over the globe, who each bring their own opinions, outlooks, and origins to share in this hub of Catholicism.

When  applying through a connection within the University of Notre Dame, where I will be a junior this year, I hoped that this internship would blend my religious role as a faithful Catholic with my academic role, as a Classics major. This has happened time and again during my time here in Rome. Walk down a street of Rome, and you can not help but come across the SPQR of the Roman Empire next to the keys of St. Peter, a Roman temple next to a Catholic basilica, and the ruins of a villa next to a Christian graveyard. The greatest experiences, though, are in the details. I have marveled at the great monuments: I’ve been to all four Papal basilicas, seen numerous relics incuding fragments of the true cross, visited the tombs of the saints, and been wowed by countless sculptures, paintings and frescos depicting scenes of our faith. However, it is the things off the beaten path that I’ve really enjoyed, seeing the more humble side of the history of our faith. Finding a little one room church in Rome, with a simple altar and cross as the only decoration, or getting lost and coming across a shrine to Mary— two religious sites that receive hardly any visitors, but show their own piety, devotion, and simple approach to receiving the mercy of God.

This summer, I have worked as the social media consultant for the Patrons, posting to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter while attempting to reach out to the next generation of Vatican Patrons of the Arts. This has sometimes been a challenge, as our office is only beginning to find our social media identity, seeking to reach out to people at a more human to human level, while also maintaining our status as representatives for the Catholic church. I have enjoyed this work and grown tremendously in the process, and I now know more about what kind of work I want to pursue in the future. I will now return to the States for several weeks, but I will then return to Rome, where I will be studying abroad for the fall semester. I will return prepared to live in a city I’ve grown to love, having learned the city and its ins and outs from the Patrons of the Arts.