according to an HIM student interning in the Maldives
Employers are always scouting for talented people with demonstrated professional experience to work for them. As a hospitality student at Hotel Institute Montreux and an intern at the five-starred Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi, I know first-hand that an internship is a great way to get gain skills and start your professional journey. But an internship abroad, I believe, can set you apart from the crowd and off to a triumphant international career. Have a read about my hospitality internship experience in the Maldives and learn seven reasons why I chose to intern abroad and why you should, too!
My name is Tina Gjester Eikeland. I come from Norway and I study hospitality at Hotel Institute Montreux (HIM) in Switzerland. One unique thing about HIM is that it has a wide network of connections with some of the most prominent hospitality businesses in the world.
With the help of my school and my career coach, I was able to receive an internship offer at the luxurious Waldorf Astoria Ithaafushi, a resort under the Hilton brand, in the Maldives. Their vision to fill the earth with light and warmth of hospitality was what got me truly interested.
I’ve been here in the Maldives for just a month now, but my internship experience has already exceeded all expectations!
I’ve been given an amazing opportunity to learn and get a full understanding of the hospitality operations as I get to train in the many different departments from Spa and Kids club to F&B, Housekeeping and Front Office department, where I am doing my main training. And here are the seven most important reasons why I think you should also choose to intern abroad!
#1 Step up your People Skills
In the hospitality business, you will constantly meet people from all over the world, both as guests and colleagues. An internship abroad is a fantastic opportunity to get accustomed to engaging with people from all over the world and become a great communicator.
If you are a curious person and genuinely interested in learning, working in a foreign country will offer valuable opportunities to meet all sorts of people from all walks of life and learn about the different ways of thinking, understand people and their needs better, and learn how to communicate so that your intentions are always well conveyed.
#2 Build an International Professional Network
Going to another country for work, especially if it is a well-known resort, allows you to meet talented hospitality professionals with unique international backgrounds and grow your professional network. Not only can your colleagues and managers become your career mentors, but they can also potentially offer you international career opportunities in the future. It is important, though, to choose a business that you trust and that can offer you what you seek.
#3 Learn Foreign Hospitality Practices
An internship in hospitality allows you to put your knowledge to the test and gives you a thorough grasp of hospitality operations. Interning abroad, however, you also learn about region-specific practices, which can later inspire innovative solutions in your career back home or give you an advantage in building an international career.
I’ve noticed that, for example, Waldorf Astoria Maldives, like many other hotels in the Maldives, operates a bit different because there are no drop-in guests. Everything to the last detail has to be prepared and though-out in advance.
I think because I’ve been trained in different departments here, the most important thing I have learned is the importance of smooth communication between the departments to ensure an excellent customer experience.
#4 Discover New Cultures
Some things you just cannot learn by reading. I believe that the only way to understand the essence of a country or culture truly is to actually step a foot in a specific region, traverse the local grounds, interact with the people, and become involved in their daily routines.
The Maldives has always been on my bucket list. As HIM students, we are so lucky to have access to the best internship offers.. what is a better way to get to know a country than to live there for 4-6 months?!
There is a significant contrast between my life on this island and what I am used to in Switzerland and my native country of Norway. I’m having a great time exploring the country and getting to know the locals and their customs!
#5 Improve Foreign Language Skills
Interning abroad is a great opportunity to work on your foreign language skills. You will have a superb environment to practise your English (or another major language depending on the internship location), or even to learn a new, local one!
In my case, English is the only way I can communicate with others in the Maldives, there is no one who speaks my mother tongue here. Practising it daily makes a world of a difference and I can already see how much I’ve advanced with it.
#6 Grow as a Person
One of the things I am most appreciative about is that I have grown more as a person. When you leave for your Internship abroad all on your own, you quickly discover your strengths and your weaknesses. It helped me to narrow down on what I want to do in my life and even on how I want to be as a person, on my values.
Getting out of your comfort zone and into an unfamiliar place and new routines is a great challenge. It is also a unique opportunity to become more confident in yourself because it is a challenge you can overcome if you set your mind to it. And even though it feels “safer” to stay someplace near home, I promise that it will be an experience of your life and something you will never forget!
#7 Create Unforgettable Memories
Internships are not only about work; it is also about making friendships and going on adventures. Living abroad for a longer period allows you to travel, try out local activities and experience something adventurous.
In my free time, I have already been on educational excursions, done non-motorized and motorized watersports, went snorkelling and swimming with the sharks, and I am looking forward to diving with the sharks and seeing more of the majestic creatures of the sea world here in the Maldives.
On top, here we also have sports teams in the staff area where we play football, volleyball, and other games with colleagues and more. I have made so many beautiful memories, and I’m only a month in!
If you decide to do an internship abroad, my advice is to always keep an open mind and a good attitude. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, and give yourself time to learn. You don’t have to be perfect at everything, especially right from the start.
Remember that every person brings something unique to the table. And even though it feels “safer” to stay someplace near home, I promise that it will be an experience of your life and something you will never forget.
I am beyond grateful for this chapter of my life and to all the people I am meeting along the way, for the time they set off to learn and to share their experiences and knowledge!
Words by Tina Gjester Eikeland, Hotel Institute Montreux Student & Intern at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi in the Maldives.