5 Months at Ritz Carlton Millenia

Every final year polytechnic student will undergo an Internship in a company or institution where they can apply what they have learnt in their diploma course and get a taste of the working world.  How about doing your internship at one of Singapore’s top hotels – the Ritz Carlton?  A student from the Diploma in Integrated Facility Management (IFM), Ruby Koh Yun Ru, tells us what it was like…

I was very honoured to be attached for 5 whole months with Ritz Carlton Millenia Singapore.  Sounds really prestigious right?  The hotel focuses largely on personalised and excellent service, ensuring recognition not just for guests but for staff as well.

On the first day of internship, I was posted to the department on the highest level!  Located at the 32nd floor, Ritz Carlton Club (RCC) is an Executive Club Lounge that offers private seating areas with various meal presentations of Asian Cuisine buffets.  Not only that, it offers VIPs or high paying guests a free flow of champagne all day! 

As a new Club Concierge (that’s what all RCC staff are called), we underwent 2 days of training during which we switched departments every few hours to learn about the different daily operations and how will each department affects the others.  During these 2 days, I was assigned my learning coach, Amy De Vera and my mentor, Monica Francia. 

Amy taught us the basic importance of Ritz Carlton’s brand service standards, as the hotel is very strict in their service.  Various brand standard audits are conducted every month and the staff would want to make sure that standards do not drop.  With Amy going through the bigger scale of operations, Monica guided me around smaller details like table setting and creating a menu.  The first 2 days of work was pretty overwhelming as I had so many things to learn!

At RCC, I was assigned to the Lounge, where I had to welcome guests with a “Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening”, take them to their assigned seats, and then provide them with any service that they require, including taking orders for beverages.  In addition, we had to clear the food trolley and also change the table setting during different meal presentations – this had to be done swiftly to coincide with the new buffet laid out by Pantry staff. 

This job is where the service skills that we have learnt in school come in.  We have to provide service to guests that will exceed their expectations.  More importantly, by remembering guest’s names, it will make them feel at ease and recognised.  Remember this: a person’s name is the most important thing he owns!

After a month of working at Lounge, I was then posted to the Pantry, where I had to be familiar with the “back kitchen” (big pantry) and know what types of foods are displayed in the buffet.  Not only that, I had to know what are the ingredients used in the buffet and the layout of all 5 different buffet meal presentations!  At the start of working in the pantry, I was really stressed out as I had to remember so many things at one go!  I felt like this was worse than studying for my main exam! Lol.  When the buffet food runs out, I had to go all the way down to pick up new dishes.  I also had to ensure that there were enough cutleries.

There were 2 shifts in the Pantry – morning and afternoon.  Staff in the morning shift had to prepare the next 2 days’ buffet menu and pick up stocks which had been ordered, while the afternoon shift staff had to check existing supply and order new stocks.  Even with so many tasks, it is very important that we do not neglect the guests who walk in and out of the buffet.  We have to greet and attend to them as well because at the Ritz Carlton, service is paramount.  As you can imagine, it was really tiring, I was working like a robot.  But it was one very good learning experience, trust me.

One unique feature about the staff culture is that we have to create WOW stories.  What is a WOW story?  Well, by providing service that exceeds guests’ expectations, you impress them such that they show their appreciation in some way, wow!  Yes, that’s how you get WOW stories.  However, the most tedious part of this is writing up the story and submitting it to our HR department.  Throughout my internship, I had a total of 8 WOW stories and I managed to help RCC hit their Wow stories target.  The best part is that, 3 of my Wow stories were even posted on “Control To Quality (CTQ)” for all staff to view.  I indeed felt a sense of accomplishment and success, because it’s a way that the management recognises my efforts.  On top of that, if guests state my name on the feedback form, it’s even more fulfilling!

As a student who does not have much working experience, my objective was to learn as much as possible, in terms of customer service,  behind-the-scene management and also, to learn about hospitality from not just any hotel, but from one of the most reputable hotels worldwide.  This internship has helped me to gain more confidence and improved my as interpersonal skills. 

There’s a saying “One staff’s mistake is the entire team’s responsibility.”  This was the biggest push for me to change my work attitude and way of doing things.  It has made me more meticulous, more of a perfectionist who instinctively ensures that everything tip-top and in place.

I’ve had plenty of memorable experiences with the guests and my colleagues, and it is definitely one of the greatest experiences in my life so far!

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