A new country, a new culture, and a new language – all things third-year Design major Chloe Prock experienced when she decided to travel to Italy to participate in cooperative education (co-op), Northeastern’s 6-month internship program. Though Chloe is an Italian citizen, she had never lived in the country until starting her co-op at The Visual Agency (TVA) in Milan. From figuring out how to access cell phone and GPS services, to finding housing, and even grocery shopping, every aspect of her daily life was new.
“When I first arrived, it was pretty scary,” Chloe said. “I was traveling in the middle of a global pandemic. On top of that, I was in a new city, I didn’t know anybody, and I wasn’t confident in speaking the language. I was afraid that I was going to get lost and not know how to ask for directions.”
With just a few days to settle in, Chloe began her internship as the youngest member of the Agency’s Design team. In fact, Chloe was TVA’s first Northeastern co-op student, an opportunity she carved out for herself after leveraging her connection to Director for the Center for Design Paolo Ciuccarelli to set up a meeting with the CEO and pitch herself for an open position within the company. TVA ended up being enthusiastic about having a fluent English speaker on their team and becoming an employer through the Northeastern cooperative education program.
“In Italy, it’s not common for people to complete internship work until they are in graduate school,” Chloe explained. “Normally, they wouldn’t hire an undergraduate like myself.”
During her time at TVA, Chloe had the opportunity to work on numerous design projects for TVA clients such as Terna, where she worked on both interactive and static data visualization of bird migration patterns. For another project for UNICEF, Chloe had a week to design charts and photo and text placement for a 60-page booklet. As the firm’s only native English speaker, Chloe also had the opportunity to attend client meetings and present work directly to UNICEF.
Her largest project was a five-month assignment for La Lettura, the Sunday cultural supplemental of Corriere della Sera, one of Italy’s oldest and most-read newspapers. With a partner, Chloe researched 10-15 datasets and topics they could present to La Lettura—narrowing it down to three topics for their final pitch presentation. Using two data sources, “The Contemporary Art Market Report 2020” (for artist ranking) and “ArtMarket.com” (for artist classification), Chloe and her partner, Beatrice Bazzan, created a full-spread data visualization piece accompanied by a published article.
Though she mostly worked with the Design department, Chloe also had a chance to work with TVA’s Motion Design and Illustration teams on data analysis of animated video viewership. Building off that positive experience, Chloe also worked on a side project creating illustrations, including an exoskeleton arm, that were then animated for a client’s website.
“Working with such a driven and talented group of designers at The Visual Agency gave me an insight into the field that was entirely different that any experience I have had in a class. After speaking with the design director at the agency at the end of my co-op, I learned that a master’s degree is preferred to work full time in the field. So I applied and was accepted into in the MS of Information Design and Data Visualization at Northeastern — a step I had been unsure about taking before co-op,” Chloe shared. “The experience transformed how I was thinking about the future of both my education and career.”
Her co-op experience helped Chloe go from being an outsider to feeling at home in Italy, and she now hopes to return there permanently later in her career.
“I would love to go back and work in Milan but probably not until I’m a little older. It’s difficult to land a permanent position in Italy, especially when you’re young,” Chloe concludes. “I can see myself settling in Italy for the long-term.”
To learn more about CAMD’s Co-op Program, click here.