Dusit Hospitality Management College is welcoming, engaged and committed to excellence in hospitality and culinary education for the benefit of our students and the hospitality industry. Located in the Philippines, we equip our future professionals with technical, interpersonal and managerial competencies to prepare them for management and leadership roles in hospitality and culinary organizations.
As established in the previous article, sophomores of the Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management (BSHM) Program at Dusit Hospitality Management College (DHMC) experience an operational internship in their second semester. Following their practical experience in the College’s and dusitD2 Hotel’s facilities, they’ll get firsthand experience working overseas. This assignment ensures that they have the experience and skills to go over the possible challenges they may face in their hospitality management career.
This time Aaron Joshua Palma takes the stage to share his experience with his internship abroad. Fulfilling his assignment at the Hyatt Regency Danang Resort and Spa in Vietnam, he tells us his thoughts and insights.
Aaron Joshua Palma
Why did you choose Hospitality Management for your degree course?
I chose Hospitality Management for my degree course because I want to be able to build a career in the Hospitality Industry. Being one of the fastest-growing industries in the Philippines with increasing job opportunities, I simply wanted a piece of the pie and see where my career choice would take me. I was never the type of person who loved to sit down at his computer for hours doing the same routines repeatedly. I wanted to meet new people and make connections while having some room for creativity. Furthermore, it has always been my dream to see the world and appreciate new cultures firsthand. So, I went away with my initial plan to take up Business Management, since both of my parents are Business Majors, and stuck with Hospitality.
What operations are assigned to you during your internship? What are your roles, duties, and responsibilities?
I am currently fulfilling my internship as I answer this interview. I have been assigned to the Concierge Desk at the Hyatt Regency Danang Resort and Spa in Vietnam for the past month. As of now, I still have 4 months left to go of my 5-month internship. Regarding my duties and responsibilities, I basically do what any typical concierge does at a hotel, which is answering all guest queries and requests. It is not so easy to get into the details since there are quite a lot, but what I’ve done so far for some guests was create reservations for transportation (both hotel and third party), restaurants, tours, golf, and spa, and I’ve also given the guests recommendations on places to eat, drink, visit, and shop within Danang City and Hoi An City (neighboring city south of Danang) just to name a few. Aside from that I also do daily tasks such as checking and printing daily reports and bell desk duties (such as carrying and storing luggage and ordering buggy car service for guests).
What were your expectations going into your internship?
Before my internship began, I honestly expected it to be quite easy and not so intensive. Knowing that I was getting an internship at the Resort’s Front Office department, I expected to end up doing tasks that were more clerical and required some paperwork. I assumed that I would most likely spend most of my time at the back office. I also expected to encounter a huge influx of guests, since I was coming in at summertime in Danang which is their peak season.
How was your experience? Did it meet your expectations?
After just one month, I would say that my experience exceeded my expectations in most areas, but not in all. Firstly, what I highly appreciate with Hyatt’s internship program is that they let the interns do almost everything a normal employee does. I knew that some hotels have reservations about having interns use the hotel’s operating system that contains a lot of sensitive data, but it was not the case for Hyatt. Secondly, the job at hand was much more difficult than I previously thought. With a surprisingly large amount of responsibilities given to the interns, there were a lot more things to do and a lot more pressure to succeed. Lastly, the number of guests that were coming to the resort was declining. Unfortunately for me, I came at a time when the Corona Virus was becoming a worldwide crisis. As a result, the number of guests coming to the resort declined by a huge margin, making the resort much less busy.
What challenges did you encounter? How did you solve them?
Yes, I encountered challenges within my first month. One of the first challenges I encountered was the difference in culture and a feeling of alienation. Working in a country with people that speak minimal English and different habits and practices is quite discomforting at first. The new environment quickly made me feel like an alien on another planet. It being my first time working abroad, being able to find or see anything that resembled something of home brought some comfort to me and that was how I first dealt with it. Later on, I found a much better solution, which was simply socializing with my colleagues and neighbors.
What did you enjoy the most in your assignment?
What I enjoyed most in my assignment was exploring Central Vietnam in my free time. The good thing about internships is that it is not always about working, but also learning how to have fun in a different environment. Fortunately for me, I was working in an area surrounded by tourist attractions. Going from my place of residence to the nearest tourist destination was only 5 minutes by taxi. It was during these times that I realized how beautiful Vietnam is both naturally and culturally.
How did Dusit Hospitality Management College support you in the program?
DHMC supported me way before I started my internship. It was through one of my professors, Mr. Dominique Soriano, where I found out about Hyatt Regency’s internship program, which I am undergoing now. From searching for internship opportunities to fulfilling the necessary requirements for both Hyatt Regency and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), DHMC has given me all the required support I needed. Even during my internship now, DHMC constantly checks up on my situation and well-being through brief video calls and online group chats.
How did your classes in hospitality management help you in your internship?
My classes in hospitality management helped me a lot during my internship. In DHMC, we are required to take several prerequisite subjects before we can even be qualified to take an internship. In my case, the prerequisite subject that helped me a lot in my internship is my subject on Front Office Operations. This subject taught me the basics of OPERA, which is the operating system that most hotels use, and how to use it in hotel operations. Working at the Concierge, knowing and having the confidence how to use OPERA is extremely helpful, especially when it comes to giving excellent service to guests.
What would you consider to be a valuable takeaway so far from your internship?
In my opinion, my most valuable takeaway so far in my current ongoing internship is the ability to adapt to any given situation. Being in a foreign country, surrounded by unfamiliar faces and practices, it is necessary for one to adapt quickly. Adaptation also requires flexibility and as I have learned so far, there will always be situations where you’ll have to do things you’re normally not used to doing. The best thing to do in any new environment is to be open to change and adapt to the culture. One good example of that is to simply step out of your comfort zone and take certain risks. I would like to believe that moves like this make room for growth and maturity.
What advice would you give to the freshmen or future students to prepare for their internship?
If I were to give a simple, yet valuable piece of advice to the future students for their internship, it is to know what you really want in your career. Undergoing an internship is like having a preview of what your working life will be like. The better you know what you want to do in the future, the happier you’ll be. Knowing what you really want also helps a lot during the application process for your internship. The more you know what you really want the easier it is to look for a property to apply for and you’ll also get a better idea of how to structure your resume and answer your interviews.
Did your career objectives change during your internship? What are they?
No, my career objectives have not changed. I still aim to build my career in the hospitality industry. My ultimate goal is to someday become a General Manager of a 5-star hotel by climbing up the corporate ladder. Hence, why I believe taking an internship at the Front Office Department is ideal for me. Front Office can give any hotelier the needed general knowledge of how a hotel operates and functions, especially since it is the department that is considered the hotel’s “front line”.
In hindsight, what do you now wish you had known before choosing and starting your internship?
In all honesty, one of the things that I wish I had known was how bad the Corona Virus would have impacted the hospitality industry during my internship. I know that predicting such a crisis is close to impossible, but if I had known how bad the crisis would be I would have either picked a different period to hold my internship or choose a destination that still sees a considerable amount of tourists. Having a huge drop in tourist arrivals makes on the job training a little difficult, especially when there are not many guests to practice with.
An Experience Full of Learning
There’s no denying that his internship experience was filled with challenges and lessons. Difficult as it may be, it allowed Aaron Joshua to hone his hospitality and management skills in a real work setting. Same as this operational assignment, DHMC offers more opportunities to its students so they can be prepared for what’s ahead of their career. If you’re interested in starting a management career in the hospitality industry, what better way to begin by enrolling at DHMC’s BS in Hospitality Management Program.
DHMC is committed to excellence in hospitality, tourism, and culinary education. Studying at DHMC enables you to learn the technical, interpersonal, and managerial skills needed in effectively serving management and leadership roles in the international hospitality industry. Certified by École hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL), a top hotel school according to QS world university subject ranking, DHMC’s BS in Hospitality Management Program provides its students with real-world learning experiences.
To learn more about Dusit Hospitality Management College, head to www.dusitcollege.ph or www.facebook.com/dhmcmanila, or call +63 2 8250 8988.