We know of students who had interesting Overseas Internship Programmes before. But when I heard about what students from the Diploma in Hospitality & Tourism Management (HTM) had the chance to do, my jaw dropped.
HTM has an fascinating partnership with Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts – every year students can join Four Seasons for their internship not just in Singapore but all around the world. In fact, there are typically just a few who stay in Singapore (this year there was just 1) for their Four Seasons Internship. Most travel to places like China, Seychelles, Mauritius and more. HTM students get to work, for a few months, at dream resort and hotel destinations around the world.
I’m just going to let that sink in for a bit.
Shinn (who worked in Seychelles), Joan (worked in Mauritius), Wan Ting (in Hangzhou) and Francis (Maldives) are 4 graduating students from the HTM cohort that had the privilege of participating in the OSIP with Four Seasons. And before you get all green with envy, remember that they weren’t there as guests or tourists. They were on internship.
… Oh who am I kidding. Even while I interviewed them, I was brimming with jealousy. How could you not be when you’re talking to people who had a chance to visit somewhere like this:
I met the 4 students together with Jason, Four Season’s Learning & Development Manager who incidentally was ALSO a HTM graduate. He himself spent about 2 years working in Four Season Maldives before being posted back to Singapore. It felt like one big family reunion. One a side note, the moment I stepped into the meeting room where the students and Jason were, I immediately felt under-dressed. Leave it to people from the hospitality industry to always look their best.
“So what were some of the highlights of your OSIP with Four Seasons? (Besides the wonderful resort / hotel, of course)”
I was half expecting a “haha where do I begin”, but our students barely stop for a beat as they began to regale me with tales of their exploits during their internship.
Shinn, who was based in Seychelles, spoke about its pace of life there. “It was caring, slower-paced than Singapore.” As one of 7 students who went to Seychelles, she worked at the Front Office and Concierge, and met all sorts of nationalities (which pretty much went the same for the other students as well). I could not help but think of the sunny, smooth beaches as she spoke about meeting interesting guests and interacting with the Seychelles natives.
When I asked them about where they stayed, Jason suddenly turned to Wan Ting, and said, “Tell them about your bed.”
I pause, amused and curious.
“For my internship, I stayed in one of the hotel rooms.”
*twitch* … Whaaat?
“And slept on the Four Season’s bed, which costs about $60,000.”
“Are you SERIOUS?” I exclaim almost immediately.
Well. Was it comfortable?
It’s An Internship, Not a Holiday. An internship, not a holiday. An internship…
Okay, okay, so it still sounds like a long holiday. But how was the work?
Joan worked in restaurant while she was in the Maldives. “It was crazy! You had to serve customers fast, accurately and under the hot sun.” Impatient customers during peak hours didn’t help either, and different nationalities also meant there would the occasional language barrier. But she clearly wasn’t complaining. “It was a a one-in-a-lifetime-experience.”
Interestingly, something I would’ve considered “once-in-a-lifetime” would be meeting royalty, but working not quite so for those in the Hospitality Industry. Jason himself has met quite a few, and Francis, who interned in the Maldives, met one prince while he was there. “There was a large entourage,” he recalls. And Jason adds, “And you see the really, really rich.
There was one relatively funny story that Francis shared. He was told never to say, “Welcome back” to their customers.
“Err. Well, because one week they might come with a female companion, but the following week with their wives. So…”
I laughed for a long time.
But among the many stories they shared, it wasn’t the funny or the exciting or even the lovely sights and sounds that impacted them the most. It was the very experience, perhaps even the exclusivity, of going through something that they would not have gone through had they not seized the OSIP chance in TP like they did…
Their communication skills were tested across language barriers. Their professionalism was honed by the requirements of the job, and by the real-life running of the resort or hotel. Their eyes were opened to the many cultural differences and standards of living across oceans.
That chance was a result of them even choosing to come to TP in the first place, and we’re proud to see them graduate with these seized opportunities under their belt.
I, for one, seriously I wish I was there too.