A chat about studies and hospitality with an SHMS Student from Sweden
Hi Petrus! Why would you say hospitality is a great match for you?
Hi! Studying Hospitality Management suits me very well. I am outgoing, a bit of an entertainer, and a perfectionist. I believe these are a few of the key ingredients to succeed in this business.
Were you interested in your field when you were a kid?
Growing up, I didn’t know much about hotels. However, my interest in the restaurant business developed early. As a kid, I enjoyed performing, helping around, and making people laugh. On top of that, my family always gathered around meals, which fueled my passion for food.
What excites you about studying hospitality?
The fact that there is always more to learn! We’re taught to think outside the box and to be creative. Sometimes, there are so many ways to solve an issue and cater to a guest’s needs that even the lecturers get surprised by our solutions!
What is the most significant benefit of attending SHMS?
I think the mix of practical and theoretical learning makes the Swiss Hotel Management School stand out. In every part of the program, there is a lot of focus on how it applies to real-life scenarios. And then, for me, the lecturers and career coaches have been fantastic. The whole faculty at SHMS has given me a lot of guidance, inspiration, and motivation, helping me get to where I am today.
Did Swiss Hotel Management School help you pursue your current internship?
Yes, the career coaches have played a significant part in my search for an internship. They assisted me with contacts and gave me a lot of guidance and advice. More importantly, they listened and helped me decide which offer to take. I could feel that, above all, they wanted me to be happy with this decision.
Why do you think your school places that much importance on internships?
I think the Swiss Hotel Management School recognizes that the best way to master hospitality or any people-oriented industry is to acquire practical experience, especially if one plans to make an international career.
As a traveling professional in this industry, you have to be able to adjust to new places, cultures, and new people. I have moved abroad several times, and it gets easier, but I’m still nervous every time. Why? Because I’m about to step out of my comfort zone, which is, believe it or not, something that gets addictive! It’s a great way to learn and gain new world perspectives. The fact that SHMS prioritizes this was one of the reasons I applied here.
Where are you currently interning, and in what position?
I am a Manager in Training (MIT) at Daniel Boulud’s restaurant at the 5-star JW Mariott Marquis Miami, in Florida, USA. My current position is Bar & Lounge Supervisor. The internship is for one year, and I’ve done four months already.
Does that mean that you get to try out different positions?
The internship was originally created so that I would rotate all Front of House positions in the restaurant for eight months. It’s a great way to grasp the entire operation before moving on to Service Management. But since I have extensive experience already, including management, we decided together that I’d try out a management position now, so I can keep learning.
The General Manager and I have meetings continuously, which I am pleased about. It makes me feel valuable to the organization.
80s-themed student night at Swiss Hotel Management School.
Did you have any help from your school when applying for this internship?
Absolutely. The Swiss Hotel Management School career coaches, the lecturers, and the visa sponsor all played a part in this process.
What is a visa sponsor?
You need a sponsor to get a student or work visa if you are not American. Many sponsors visit the Swiss Hotel Management School and provide all information you need. They usually have a portfolio of companies they work with and help you find the best fit. The rest is up to you.
Once you found your sponsor, how did the rest of the process look like?
I was given a list of jobs all over the US after the sponsor accepted me, but none of them were in Food & Beverage (F&B) Management. The sponsor then told me to give her a week or two, and sure enough, after two weeks, I was sent an offer letter from JW Marriott Marquis! Two interviews later, excited at the prospect of an entire year of growth at such a highly rated hotel with a star chef like Daniel Boulud, I signed the contract.
How do you enjoy living in Miami?
Living in Miami has many perks. I go to the beach almost every day; many events are happening there. I’ve already attended the Ultra Music Festival, Formula1, Miami Open, and the Bitcoin convention. If you want to be in a city that never sleeps, this is the place!
Moreover, being employed by Marriott gives us discounts on all the hotels and restaurants within the brand, which I’ve already used. In May, I went to Medelìn, Colombia, and in October, I will go to the Bahamas. In all honesty, though, there is so much happening in Miami that every free day can feel like a mini vacation!
What skills have you gained at Swiss Hotel Management School & what have you learned in your internship at JW Marriott thus far?
Something I’ve learned at Swiss Hotel Management School, which I get to practice now, is how to assess and adjust to different cultures. This is probably the most noticeable skill that I’m consciously developing. Guests at JW Marriott Marquis Miami come from many different parts of the world, and I spend a lot of time getting to know them. Interacting with new people is challenging but also exciting, and the more you do it, the better you become at it.
What are the current trends in your field? Where do you see your industry going?
I’ve seen in restaurants that guests frequently request healthier options on the menu. Mindfulness in both body and mind is unquestionably a hot topic. I think we will see more service offers in the Health & Wellness category in hotels, too. If you go to a gym today, they often offer services like body scans, IVs, and different therapies outside the actual training. I believe we will see more of this in the hotels, with tailored experiences to enhance the guest’s health and wellbeing.
What kind of impact would you hope to make in your field in the future?
I struggled with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Covid-19 during 2020. Being ill for a very long time made me think about how to recover in the best way possible, and that’s how the vision to work with lifestyle hotels came to me. Health & Wellness is something I hold close to my heart, and my idea is to create a getaway resort where this is the main focus.
Most of our lives nowadays are high-paced, stressful, and demanding, and therefore people are actively looking for ways to enhance their health and be more mindful. I want to open a resort that combines food, wellness, and nature that helps people feel a little bit better. These type of establishments already exists, of course, but I believe there is room to develop the idea further and give it my own twist.
That sounds like something I would love to go to! Tell me more!
For example, regular hotel spa services usually include yoga, beauty treatments, massages, and a gym. What if we added the element of learning as well? Offering sessions with a physiotherapist about mind, stress, aches, and how it all is connected is something I think everyone would benefit from.
The F&B outlets would follow the concept and serve healthy food with local, sustainable ingredients. And I want to implement learning here as well! Eating healthy or sustainable foods requires the right knowledge. What better way to learn than by receiving a masterclass from a professional chef and a nutritionist on vacation? I want to combine this with outdoor activities like hiking, biking, rafting, skiing, etc. The goal is for the guest to feel energized and recharged when checking out.
What are some of the issues you’d like to see resolved in the hospitality industry?
In school, they teach us a lot about the 3Ps sustainable business concept – people, planet, and profit. Many people talk about the importance of saving the environment and using natural resources responsibly. But this model also points to the preference for businesses to help the local communities thrive. One risk when building getaways resorts is, however, often that the local population feels alienated or pushed away.
Celebrating local cultures within the hotel can ensure that this doesn’t happen. Local music, shows, food, and maybe even locally developed therapies. I believe that all businesses should follow this concept, and if you’re doing it right, you will have a profit. It all makes perfect sense!
Thank you, Petrus, for an exciting conversation! The best of luck to you in all of your future endeavors!