Double Bachelor’s Degree Program Internships Open Minds & Doors
When Samantha von Burg spontaneously stopped by a Sandals Resorts Company booth at the International Recruitment Forum in Montreux, Switzerland, she didn’t expect the casual conversation she had with the recruiter would lead to anything. But like other students in the WSU/Cèsar Ritz Colleges Switzerland joint bachelor’s degree program, her business training, communication skills, and poise made her stand out. Just two days after meeting the Sandals recruiter, von Burg received an offer for a six-month internship at the Beaches Negril Resort and Spa in Jamaica.
For the first few weeks, she trained in several revenue areas including the gift and photo shops, loyalty office, spa, and sales office and learned to work very independently. She also gained insights from the front office, concierge, and butler teams. Additionally, one of her favorite experiences was working in the wedding department. “I had the chance to organize one wedding and one retie-the-knot ceremony. It was highly educating,” she says.
By observing her department leaders, she learned how problems can be approached in different ways and what values are important to employees.
“In the hospitality industry, where we will work with people, colleagues, or guests from countless backgrounds, it is important to try and understand people’s needs and wants, as well as their expectations and behaviors,” she says. “One of the most important things I learned in Jamaica was experiencing and trying to understand a different culture.”
Swiss internship builds global perspective, networks
The WSU/Cèsar Ritz Colleges Switzerland program requires one internship to be completed in Switzerland. von Burg knew she wanted to work in one of the bigger cities, and Zurich’s international flair appealed to her. She applied at the Dolder Grand Resort and Spa, one of the area’s most well-known hotels with a large clientele of business travelers. After a rigorous interview, she was offered a six-month internship as a front office agent.
“I appreciated that my superiors treated me as an agent rather than an intern,” she says. “After the first month, I had the same responsibilities and independence as my coworkers and was an integral part of the team.”
She says the attention to detail practiced at Dolder was the most valuable experience. “It was quite impressive and something I think is of utmost importance. Details can make all the difference; it might only be something small that can change a guest’s whole experience,” she says.
Marrying theory with practical experience
von Burg credits WSU/Cèsar Ritz Colleges Switzerland teachers for sharing their own experiences and discussing current events and future trends to prepare students for successful industry experiences. The courses help students understand what happens in the background of an organization and why certain processes are implemented. With this knowledge, students are more prepared to face the real world of hospitality during their internships, she says.
“This program is a perfect combination of practical experience and theoretical knowledge,” she says. “The diversity of students and teachers continuously motivates and provides me with new insights almost every day. The whole school experience is mind-opening and enriching.”
von Burg was raised in Grenchen in the canton of Soloturn, Switzerland and worked in banking for six years. She spent a year in Santa Barbara, California learning English and became interested in the hospitality industry. After traveling the U.S. west coast for three months, she had an epiphany and decided to earn a hospitality degree because “the prospect of interacting with countless interesting and different people from around the world was so exciting,” she explains.
When she graduates in March 2017 with dual bachelor’s degrees in hospitality business management and international business in hotel and tourism management, she aspires to travel the globe through a career as a corporate manager in the hospitality industry.
Click for more information on how you can invest in the Carson College of Business to help students develop global business perspectives, or contact Raegan Harvey, assistant director of alumni and industry relations, at email@example.com or 509-335-9448.