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Washington State University
Dividend - Fall 2023 Features

Internship at Dubai’s Burj Al Arab Paves Way to Luxury Hotel Career

By Sue McMurray
Jeffrey Styborski
Courtesy Jeffrey Styborski

After taking a couple of years off from school and working dead-end jobs, Spokane native Jeffrey Styborski accepted a position at a Best Western Plus hotel, a pivotal decision that put him on a path toward becoming a future luxury hospitality business owner.

“I absolutely loved it,” Styborski says of his Best Western work experience. “After working my way up to general manager, I knew this was the industry for me and decided to return to school. WSU’s renowned hospitality program, prestigious reputation, financial assistance, and location were a perfect fit.”

Several scholarships made it possible for him to pursue his degree in hospitality business management and study abroad. He attended a year-long program at the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management in Dubai and accepted a full-time position as a rooms manager in training at the Four Seasons Hotel Boston before graduating from WSU in May.

Building career experience through an international internship

“The Emirates Academy not only offered an incredible hospitality program to further my education, it was also the only program that offered an internship with one of their numerous partnered companies throughout Dubai,” he says. “Especially as I prepared to graduate, the opportunity to gain immediate exposure, connections, and experience in luxury hospitality truly made the Emirates Academy the only choice for me.”

He spent his first seven months at the academy learning from industry leaders around the world and engaging in student council. He also worked part-time at the Burj Al Arab, a luxury hotel, as a waiter and restaurant/beach club host. After completing his studies, he began a five-month front office internship there. His duties included check-in/out, ensuring quality guest experiences, and designing projects to improve guest relations, communication, and operations.

“Mastering how to precisely communicate, adapt, and work as a team in a high-performance establishment such as the Burj Al Arab was invaluable,” he says. “These skills are crucial to any business, and being able to hone them in a global, luxury environment is simply something I couldn’t have experienced back home.”

The experience directly aligned with his hospitality major, which requires 1,000 hours of paid hospitality experience prior to graduation.

Study abroad leads to personal growth

Styborski says the amount he learned about himself as a result of the experience surprised him. “Everything changed when I studied abroad; I could not be more grateful. It reaffirmed and redesigned my perspective and beliefs. Things that I never paid attention to in the US are now constantly on my mind as I work around cultural differences.”

The most rewarding thing about studying abroad was the people, he says. From guests to colleagues, the diversity of people he met led to some of the most incredible conversations, ideas, and connections.

“Studying abroad might not be for everyone; it can be difficult, expensive, and disruptive,” he says. “But if you have the chance, do it with open arms. Studying abroad made an unimaginable impact on my life. It answered questions about myself I didn’t know I had and gave me a strong foundation, deep passion, and unwavering motivation for leadership.”