Lind Olafsdottir Preps for a Wine Career with a WSU/César Ritz Colleges Degree

By Sue McMurray

For Lind Olafsdottir, the decision to pursue the WSU/César Ritz Colleges Switzerland joint bachelor’s degree was a natural fit for her long-time interest in food and beverage. Olafsdottir grew up in Reykjavík, Iceland’s capital and prime tourist destination. She entered the hospitality industry at 17 when she got a job at Apotek, a popular restaurant known for its mix of Icelandic and European cuisine and award-winning cocktails.

After working there about three years, she got the chance to be a wine server on the weekends, and it sparked her professional interests in wine.

Her five years of experience at Apotek aligned perfectly with the César Ritz Colleges recommendation that prospective students spend time working in the field of hospitality before entering the program. While she worked, Olafsdottir also completed her diploma in hotel, motel, and restaurant management at Reykjavík University.

When a former colleague and friend told her about the joint bachelor’s degree, she took notice.

“The restaurant industry has always interested me. In general, the program looked very appealing to me,” she says. “I didn’t exactly know at that time what I wanted to do in the future, and when this possibility fell into my lap, I asked myself, ‘why not try it at least?’ So I did.”

Over the three years of her program, Olafsdottir did more than just try. She excelled.

Immersion experiences inspire creativity and passion

Olafsdottir immersed herself in many activities that would advance her skills and professional experience. She participated in the Student Ambassador Forum, the César Ritz Wine Club, and the Eta Sigma Delta Honor Society. She competed in the Comite de Champagne Tasting Competition, made honor roll, and passed her Wine and Spirit Education Trust Level 2 qualification with distinction.

Internships or study abroad are part of the curriculum during students’ first two years, with the goal of helping them forge connections and gain real-world experience. Olafsdottir completed a seven-month hosting internship at Iceland’s Blue Lagoon Retreat, a famous 62-suite luxury wellness hotel surrounded by a geothermal lagoon. While there, she checked in guests, gave property tours, and booked guest activities, adding another point of success to her résumé.

“Creating experiences for people is my passion,” she says.

Learning to think outside the box

Olafsdottir says the most challenging experience came in year two of her program when students work in groups to put on an event for their classmates and teachers.

“Because of the COVID-19 regulations back then, we were limited to around 30 guests, and half of my classmates were online. Creating a fair workload for the online and offline students was challenging,” she says. “Clear messages to the group were so important. In the end, we succeeded, and the struggle taught me a lot about group work.”

According to Olafsdottir, the most beneficial things she learned from her program came from group work, her professors, and exposure to the diverse international environment of the WSU/César Ritz Colleges program. In reflecting on all of it though, she says she can see the value in her struggles throughout school even more than in her successes.

Building a foundation for a future career

Since graduating in September, Olafsdottir plans to work as a junior sommelier at Pall Mall 67, a private members club devoted to fine wine. She’ll continue with her wine studies while working and encourages others who are considering the WSU/César Ritz Colleges program to “take the leap” like she did.

“WSU and César Ritz Colleges are widely known. Having this stamp of quality on a curriculum vitae will result in career advantages for anyone,” she says.