At Swiss Hotel Management School, internships are integral to the education and training of students. But what exactly is an internship about when it comes to hospitality?
Swiss Hotel Management School (SHMS) is currently hosting the 2023 spring edition of the International Recruitment Forum (IRF) at the Caux Palace campus, where industry professionals from all over the world gather to find the best and brightest of the hospitality industry’s future for internships and job offers. Open to all Swiss Education Group schools, the IRF event is one of the best ways for SHMS students to make connections and develop their career opportunities while they are still studying. On this occasion, we would like to explain what is an internship and how higher education internships are one major key to success in your career!
Firstly, the goal of a hospitality internship is to provide interns with hands-on experience in a real-world setting, and to give them an opportunity to develop the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in the hospitality industry. SHMS prides itself as a school which focuses on practical learning alongside traditional methods of education, but there are still limitations to practical training within a classroom setting. What an internship does is further strengthen the link for students to apply what they learn in the classroom to what is used by today’s hospitality industry. Because students are doing the work in an internship, they don’t need to be told by a teacher that what they are learning is useful because they experience this firsthand. Interns work alongside experienced professionals and receive guidance and mentorship from their supervisors and coworkers. It can be difficult, mundane work, but knowing how a team functions from the bottom up is vital to the success of a future manager.
Internships can also lead to once-in-a-lifetime experiences as well. For example, one SHMS bachelor’s student got an opportunity at a hotel in Qatar during the FIFA World Cup 2022. He was able to work around a world-class event first-hand, living in the buzz of excitement from special guests and festivities throughout the city while also getting the chance to attend matches on the side.
A hospitality internship is not just about practical experience, either. For many, standing out during an internship can lead to job opportunities, even years later. While advising us on the benefits of getting an internship, SHMS Internships and Career Coach Ayshe Erinc recounts her own days as a hospitality student and how her hospitality internship led to employment years later, in a way she could not have foreseen. “I did an internship at W Hotels in the HR Department,” Ms. Erinc recalls. “As it was a part of my curricular studies, I did this mandatory internship to fulfill my internship credits, but I didn’t realize at the time that the connections I would make would lead me to obtaining my current job.” It wasn’t until 8 years later that Ms. Erinc received a text message from a previous colleague from that internship, who suggested that she join his team. “I couldn’t believe that he remembered me and thought that my profile and competencies would be a good fit for his team. The world works in mysterious ways, and we never know who we work with, or meet along the way, will lead to the next chapter of our professional life. This just confirms how important it is to continuously network and build relationships, whether it’s during IRF or in our internship, as it can open doors to something else in the future. Even if the internship is not exactly what you wanted at the time, if you put in the effort and treat your internship seriously, opportunities will come your way.”
On the other hand, even if the internship in question does not directly lead to a job offer, the experience is invaluable to improve one’s resume, define your personal brand, and create industry connections beyond those within the school. To others, the internship you choose can define yourself from other SHMS graduates on paper. Ms. Erinc also has this advice for students. “I always try to explain to students to see the bigger picture and that how we behave and who we meet could dictate our future,” she says. “It is very important to be mindful and professional and go the extra step when building our personal self-brand as this follows us and leads to future opportunities.” In addition, a variety of internships and experiences will help you better understand yourself. Experiencing different facets of the hospitality industry such as Food & Beverage, Human Resources, or Accounting can help inform where your true interests are, helping you find a specialization or niche that you are enthusiastic about. Once the internship helps you figure out your passion, you can make plans and tailor your career in the direction that you want.
Lastly, the hospitality internships are one more opportunity for students to discover and work in a new culture. These internships are all around the world, from Dubai to Paris to Tokyo. Learning about different customs and cultures is so important in the hospitality industry, especially in today’s globalized world. This means that what internship a student chooses to embark on is a chance to discover a new city or continent, so take advantage of that possibility!
At SHMS, internships are required at the bachelor studies level and for the postgraduate diploma, but is flexible to the students’ needs. A bachelor’s degree student can alternate between a semester of study on-campus and 6-month internships, or choose to do to one year of on-campus study before pursuing a more in-depth, year-long internship. For the master’s programs, internships are highly encouraged, but not required for the degree. Students can use school resources to find the perfect internship or look for opportunities on their own which can be approved by the school for credit.
Overall, internships are about taking a valuable step in achieving your career goals beyond earning your higher education degree and can help you stand out to potential employers. By gaining practical work experience and building valuable connections, you can position yourself for future success in your chosen field.
SHMS has several resources available to help students learn about what is an internship and find the right opportunities, including the internships and career center, online boards, industry associations, and the exclusive bi-annual Internship Recruitment Forum. Set yourself up for a successful hospitality career by applying to one of our programs today.