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Benjamin Franklin really knew what he was talking about when he said, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I may remember. Involve me and I learn.” Internships do just that, they involve a person, allowing them to gain work experience to progress on a professional and personal basis. Here’s the basic process by which we Glion students find internships and carry them out, and what we gain from them.

Why do an internship?

Here at the Glion Institute of Higher Education, our internships take place during semesters 2 and 5 (n.b. from 2015 it will be semesters 3 and 5), over five to six months. So the internships occur after we have completed a significant amount of Applied Learning in practical courses on campus. Our internships in the hospitality industry provide us with a strong foundation of “real-life” work experience and operational knowledge that we will use in their future careers as hotel managers and leaders.

Finding the right internship

As students, we are informed from the very beginning on how to efficiently find a suitable internship and what procedures to take in consideration. This cooperative effort involves both students and members of the Internship Department who are like a bridge between students and hotel companies. From editing an outstanding CV, to signing employment contracts, the team insures that each and every student has the resources and skills to find an internship.

Throughout the semester before internship, students have access ( via the school’s Moodle portal) to a list of leading hospitality and event management companies on a global scale. Here, all available company internships are sorted out according to student’s preferences – such as the location, the types of hotels or resorts, the visa requirements, availability of accommodation, etc.

Since the hospitality industry is a fast-developing business on a global scale, we may choose to work and live within a cultural environment different from the one we’re used to; thus automatically gaining a multicultural working experience.

Sometimes we choose internships based on language studies or a hotel’s reputation within a specific region .There have been cases when people choose to do an internship in their home country or even city, which is also acceptable seeing as they know the local attractions and people’s way of thinking. It can take anywhere from one week to two months to find an internship, and we are encouraged to seek early and often.

My First Internship – Cross Training in 5 Departments

I personally found my first internship after two weeks of searching available positions at a well-known 5* hotel in the South of France, the J.W. Marriott, Cannes. As an assistant Food & Beverage Managing Trainee, I did cross-training within all departments, and I managed to gain knowledge on how each sector is run effectively and differentiated from the others.

I worked as a Receiving clerk for the first month. This was a good starting point, as it allowed me to become familiar with all the products that were to be used in the bar, restaurants and banquets. Everything arrived on a daily basis in the mornings and I was in charge of quality control, proper stocking methods and regular inventories.

In my second month, I moved to the Room Service Department. All though the duties seemed simple, the post itself was very demanding for there were days when I had eight-ten orders and others when they seemed to never stop. This post taught me that by working in this industry, I must be very organized and flexible to meet and exceed customer expectations at random, unannounced times.

During my third month, I worked as a waiter in the fine-dining, steakhouse restaurant at the hotel. My entire fourth month was detail-focused work in the Banquets and Events Department, where massive events such as conventions, business meetings, weddings or gatherings required a more hands-on approach; but also involved team management and organizational skills.

Then, in the fifth month I returned to the restaurant, to the bar. There, I learned how to prepare and serve basic drinks, coffees and cocktails; but also how to run bar-based operations. Finally, my last weeks were spent in the Food & Beverage Outlets Offices – the administrative hub of the bars and restaurants. In it, staffing and scheduling of employees was my responsibility and also surveying that all working conditions safe and the overall work atmosphere was pleasant and exemplary.

During this internship, I had the privilege of working within a multicultural team, with people from all over Europe and the world, sharing their professional experience and support. The Internship Department’s job does not end when we sign a contract either; they are also committed to the students well-being during the working period and they keep in contact with both the intern and employer on a regular basis to monitor the progress of the intern and provide advice whenever necessary.

Second Internships and Beyond

For the second internship, we are being encouraged to choose a higher working position compared to our previous one .Because in our 4th semester, classes have topics focused more on managerial methods – as compared to first semester classes which are focused on practical methods. This way, we will move forward on our professional path by gaining more and more knowledge and learning experience on the way within the industries “hierarchy” until we reach a position with suitable responsibilities and duties.

At the end of both internships, we are required to write and hand-in a written internship report. This is a formally written report, where students discuss their work-experience as a whole. Positive comments, eventual issues and methods on solving them are thoroughly discussed to attain a maximum benefit from the learning experience.

When we approach the day we graduate, the experience we’ve gained through these internships will give us a clear view of how it is to work within the hospitality industry and thus have a clear view on what and how we specifically want to work in our future jobs. This vision and preparedness is the point of internships and the beneficial outcome of a combined effort of internship staff and students at work.

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About the author

Glion Institute of Higher Education
Glion Institute of Higher Education is a private Swiss institution offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees in hospitality, luxury and event management to an international student body across three campuses in Switzerland and London, UK.
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