This week we met with a determined bright student from Belgium who is not afraid to dream big. Ever since high school Amandine had a goal to work at the finest hospitality establishments in the world. Now the soon-to-be graduate of Hotel Institute Montreux (HIM) impresses with the world-class internships under her belt and is excited about the many career opportunities lining up. In this interview, Amandine talks about the importance of diversity, her winning attitude towards mistakes and reveals how she managed to land the prestigious internships at Jumeirah and Four Seasons.
Hi, Amandine! When you were 17, you made a bold move and left for Canada to learn English. Why did you do it?
I have always wanted to study abroad and for that, I needed to improve my English language skills. I knew that the best way to learn a language is to fully immerse yourself in it. So I mustered up the courage and left for Canada (the English-speaking part) for one year of high school exchange.
Little did I know, that decision was about to change my life! I became more mature, independent and on top of that — effortlessly fluent in English! Living abroad motivated me to study in an international environment even more. But most importantly – I became confident in my ability to create that opportunity for myself.
Sounds like you are strong-minded. Is goal setting important for you?
Yes, definitely! I am not afraid to dream big and I work hard to achieve my goals. At the end of the exchange in Canada, I was able to pass the IELTS test (an international English language test) with flying colours. It in turn allowed me to enroll in the HIM. It was not an easy process, but coming closer to my goals, the feeling of progress helped me stay focused.
Why did you make it your goal to study at Hotel Institute Montreux?
First of all, when it comes to hospitality schools, Switzerland is a major player thanks to their excellent academic preparation and well-deserved reputation. Having a Swiss school diploma on a curriculum vitae makes a major difference in the hospitality industry. Therefore, my choice towards Switzerland was easy.
Hotel Institute Montreux stood out for many things. Most important, in my opinion, is the special place for high-level internships that they place in their programs. From my own experience, having almost finished my bachelor’s, HIM has helped me land two internships at some of the most prestigious hotels in the hospitality industry. The practical experience that you get with the internships, I believe, is crucial. It gives you both confidence in your abilities and a significant advantage amongst the intense competition in the market.
For your first internship, you went to Jumeirah in Dubai. Now you’re packing your bags to do the second one in Miami. Why did you apply to such different locations for your internships?
Both the United Arab Emirates and the United States are well known for their quality service delivery in hospitality. Not only that, Jumeirah and Four Seasons are two major players in the industry.
But mostly it is because I have always enjoyed meeting people from different cultures and backgrounds. I believe diversity is very important for growth, both professional and personal. So the fact that these two cities are extremely culturally and ethnically diverse and such opposites of each other, too, is what excited me most.
Can you share how you were able to land such great internships?
HIM has a wide network of connections with some of the most known hospitality brands in the world. But, at the same time, you have to put much effort to get an internship offer. However, the school offered much assistance and created many opportunities for us to find the right fit of the best reputation.
As soon as I started studying at HIM, I learned how to connect with people, both on LinkedIn and face-to-face thanks to, firstly, the International Recruiter Forum (an annual recruitment event held by HIM). Then, we also had a lot of school projects for real brands or companies which allowed us to discover interesting companies and meet inspiring hospitality leaders that way. Lastly, as an HIM student, I also had access to an amazing career coach – Ms Brankica Ilic – who helped me to prepare for the interviews, improve my resumes, motivational letters and such all throughout the recruiting process.
What did you learn during your internship at Jumeirah?
At the Jumeirah Al Naseem luxury hotel in Dubai, a world-class establishment with high standards of excellence, I had to work hard to prove myself. Working at the front desk was very challenging as I had no previous experience in hospitality. I was, on the other hand, very determined to learn. I knew that mistakes were inevitable, especially that early on in my career. But I decided to learn from them, instead of fearing them, and that’s the frame of mind I hope to carry throughout my life.
I learned a lot during the Jumeirah internship, including how to solve problems, deal with conflicts, communicate more effectively, and even how to use Opera (which is crucial when working in the room division department).
What do you hope to learn in the second internship at Four Seasons?
The Four Seasons’ Surf Club hotel in Miami is an oceanfront resort with fine dining and a world-class spa that, like Jumeirah, expects a lot from their employees. There’s much for me to learn still. I will have a cross training that consists of room division, finance, HR and marketing. So I especially hope to gain a better understanding of conflict resolution, active listening, customer service, and multitasking. But I am sure that they will assist me in my learning throughout my stay – so this is exciting more than anything!
Do you feel more confident about your future by having had the chance to go to some of the better-known companies to intern?
What would you tell your fellow Belgians about studying in Montreux?
One thing that Belgians should, perhaps, keep in mind is that the Swiss are very punctual. Truthfully – every minute counts when preparing to get to class in the morning! On the other hand, there’s much we have in common. Montreux is a French-speaking city in Europe, just like mine, so the adaptation was not very difficult for me. Fun fact, both are well known for their delicious chocolate as well!
Overall, I’d say that living and studying in Switzerland is an amazing experience and I would recommend it to any students willing to study abroad!
Thank you Amandine and don’t forget to send us a postcard from your internship at Four Seasons!