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Hospitality is directly related to civilization, as the idea of being friendly to outsiders has been around for decades and has grown into a flourishing industry.
The time I spent in Switzerland was a unique and exceptional experience. Studying amidst the beautiful Alps and the mesmerizing scenic beauty drew me into hiking, sports, and other outdoor activities. As an international student, one gets a plethora of benefits, such as living in elite cities and building an international network that will be beneficial for the future. The quality of education and punctuality the teachers and students have to maintain in Switzerland is unique compared to other cultures and educational institutions in various countries. An integral part of my hospitality course was research, and a high level of attention to detail in research institutions is mandatory in Switzerland. I was majorly involved in group projects, assignments and presentations, and poster making assessments and competition with an extremely culturally diverse team. The teachers were very helpful and supportive of all my work. In some instances, there seemed to be a language barrier, where I was unclear what the teachers would discuss; however, as all the work was uploaded on presentations, I could see it later to clarify any confusion. In Switzerland, it’s an advantage to learn German along with English, for which we had classes in college. My colleagues and I participated in various research conferences and seminars, led by professors from all around Europe, which gave an insight into the experiences and learning of various individuals. My university allowed me to learn how a hotel or restaurant functions from within, from the points of view of the management and the employees, and taught me various ways to excel in the different departments.
“The internship is a dose of the real world. In school, we just learn the basics; in the hotels, we learn the actual, never-ending hard work”
Although it can be quite expensive to afford the daily living there, costs can be covered while doing the course by working in professional hotels and companies and undertaking yearly internships to gain savings and manage personal expenses. Internships are an important part of college, along with studies, and are also the best way to gain first-hand knowledge and experience. My internship taught me a lot of good things that will help me in my future studies and in work. I mainly worked in Service, Kitchen, and Sales & Marketing. I learned how to work along with other people in the departments and the importance of obeying the rules set by the manager and by senior colleagues. The internship is a dose of the real world. In school, we just learn the basics; in the hotels, we learn the actual, never-ending hard work. Our manager was a very sincere and disciplined person. We had a no late-comer policy and every employee had to be on time. I learned to appreciate the importance of punctuality working in such an environment, and would want to follow this in the future. Most days, the work was continuous and we got only one or two breaks in the whole day. On days when there were many guests, we even had to miss some break shifts and work over hours.
There is so much to learn from guests and colleagues of various regions. I wouldn’t say there was any particularly challenging situation; however, one thing that did bother me was that many times I had to work an hour or more as overtime, and I did not get that time off later as compensation. Another issue was the food, as I only ate vegetarian food there were occasions when they forgot to cook my food, as vegetarian food was hardly made there. At times, they would forget to make my food and I had to remind them, and my lunchtime would be wasted waiting for my meal. Overall, although there were minor issues, an internship is a great opportunity for students to gain real-life insight into what their graduate career could be like. The experience allowed me to see if I am the right fit for the position and the firm, and likewise, it helped me judge whether this is a career that I really want to pursue.
- The article was originally published in Career Ahead July 2020 issue.