Interview with a Student from Norway
This week, we chatted with an ambitious hospitality manager in the making. With six years of working experience already under her belt, May decided to pause work and take up studying to elevate her career and bring in more professional opportunities for herself. Now a student at Hotel Institute Montreux (HIM), she is currently interning in a luxurious 5-star hotel in the United Arab Emirates and couldn’t be more satisfied with her choice. In this interview, May is gushing about her dedication to learning, student activism and exciting future career opportunities after graduating.
Hi May! Before enrolling in HIM, you worked in Food & Beverage (F&B). Why was it essential for you to start studying hospitality on top?
After some time working in the F&B field, I felt like I wanted to upgrade my career and further develop my skills and abilities. On a regular basis, managers are expected to make decisions that range from simple to very challenging. Decisions in the F&B department can have a direct impact on both staff and guests. Thus they must be proper.
Why did you want to work in luxury hospitality in particular?
I remember when I had the opportunity to visit a luxury hotel myself, it was the best experience ever. That is precisely why I became interested in luxury hospitality – I want to be able to create those lasting memories for my future guests, too!
I knew that HIM would provide me with the right toolset to make better decisions in my job. Also, I wanted to be in an international environment with people from various cultural and educational backgrounds. I think such experiences help to become a better communicator in general, which is extremely important in hospitality.
How did HIM help you extend the knowledge that you acquired in your previous work experiences?
Before coming to Hotel Institute Montreux, I only knew about the basics of F&B services from practical experience. The school gave me a deeper understanding of hospitality, building rapport with guests, and how to work as a team. I learned that passion and patience are the most important qualities for success in F&B. I also realised how important the opportunity and the ability to receive feedback and see other perspectives is.
You are an active student and even belong to the Student Ambassadors Forum (SAF). Why did you become a part of this organization?
SAF is an organization for students who want to develop teamwork and time management skills, among other things. I was Green Ambassador for the winter term of 2021 before leaving for my internship. I was exploring how we could help our school become sustainable and environmentally friendly. Often we would organize educational initiatives inviting campus students to reduce food waste together, clean the surrounding areas and such.
What type of people would you say Hotel Institute Montreux is for?
I think most importantly you need to feel 100% sure that studying is what you want. Studying at HIM requires your full focus and dedication at all times. Managing the course project meetups with other students, midterm tests, final exams, and meeting the different deadlines is challenging.
However, we have a small class size in school, which makes it easier to learn the subjects and stay ahead. If you don’t understand something, the teacher will always take the time to explain it better to you. So if you are ready to learn – HIM is just the place.
Looking at your pictures, studying at HIM seems so fun! What is something you enjoy here?
One event I appreciate, for example, is a study night organized by SAF during the exam periods. Students are invited to study together, with refreshments and drinks provided for everyone. The study night motivates students to learn for examinations while having a great time. It also distracts from the typical nervousness you feel before exams. I think it is a very unique idea that you don’t typically see in Norwegian universities.
What internship possibilities does HIM offer?
Every year SEG hosts an event called the “International Recruiting Forum”, where many firms from all around the world gather to scout for and recruit talent. This is an opportunity for hospitality students to network, interview, and receive internship offers.
How was the process of getting an internship for you?
After participating in the event, I received two offers from different companies, one from the United States and the other from the United Arab Emirates. It was difficult for me to select between the two as both hotels were highly successful. Luckily at HIM, we have a career advisor who can assist you in deciding which internship is best suited to your future goals.
My goal is to become an F&B Director one day. After contemplating it longer, the Oberoi Beach Resort in the UAE seemed to be better aligned with my purpose. And that is what I chose.
I have already been here at the Oberoi for a few months now, and I have learned a lot! I have learned to see other people’s perspectives, accept criticism, adapt, be confident in my decision, take ownership, and be fair and brave to speak up.
What did you enjoy the most about living in Switzerland before your internship in the UAE?
Above everything, I enjoyed the fantastic people I met at school that eventually became like family to me. I also have to mention the breathtaking landscapes of Switzerland. With all the amazing experiences there, those mountain peaks will always make me feel at home.
Are you set on a particular career, or are you open to different possibilities?
I’m open to various possibilities because I believe different experiences make you grow. However, my long-term goal is to become an F&B director and a General manager a few years after that.
If you were to use just one word to describe the culture of HIM – what would it be and why?
The word would be “Family”. We are a small group of people who will always be there for each other no matter what.
Thank you, May, for the lovely chat and good luck with your future career endeavours!