You’re probably wondering what this trip I’m going on even is. If you have decided that the you love the Travel & Tourism industry so much that you’d like to pursue a degree in it at JWU, you’ll have to complete an internship. Most people see that word and cringe but to be honest, it’s really awesome. This internship is designed to get you first-hand experience in this industry. There is nothing (in my opinion) that sells you to an employer more than experience.
The trimester of internship was the most rewarding part of my time here at JWU so far. I have become a much better public speaker and a more respectable professional because of it. I was even offered a paid internship position from one of the internship sites, AAA Southern New England!
At the end of the trimester, those who are involved with the internship program are offered a Familiarization Trip to a destination somewhere in the world. We don’t find out until the first week; this trimester was Ireland. I’ve heard of other students going to Panama, France, Brazil, Spain, Hawaii and even China. The possibilities are endless and each provide an experience that is relevant to this industry (also a great resume booster).
The larger internship group is split up into smaller groups, each being responsible for one day of travel on the trip. My group was responsible for the first day we woke up in Ireland (Day 3). We spent the entire trimester working to make sure the day went flawlessly, or as flawless as possible. I have to admit, the amount of work was surprising. Planning this trip will test whether this industry is for you or not. On the bright side, if it is for you, a new-found appreciation will be discovered. My group and I went all the way to Ireland, a country none of us had been to, and escorted a group of 30 around all day with practically no problem. Yeah, we’re pretty awesome :) The overwhelming satisfaction of watching your plans unfold is not something that can be described in words, only experienced.
To start off our day, we had breakfast at the hotel then went to downtown Galway City (Eyre Square) to meet up with Connor, our tour guide. He gave us a very in-depth and hilarious tour of Galway City. He was lively, energetic, witty and all of this was accompanied by an authentic Irish accent. After this, we made lunch reservations at the Cellar, a college-friendly restaurant with impeccable service. Side note: if you’re a member of the Hospitality College, you may find yourself instinctively analyzing customer service wherever you go, just saying.
As amazing as lunch was, it was time for our group to receive a behind-the-scenes tour of one of Galway’s two 5-star hotels, the “g,” the interior of which was designed entirely by world-renowned hat designer, Phillip Treacy. If you can picture the following description, it will help you get an understanding of the inside of the hotel: If you’re not sure who Phillip Treacy is, someone in our group described the “g” as if, “Elton John and Lady Gaga had a child and built a ‘Barbie’s dream house’ for them.”
The description may sound rather flamboyant but it truly is a remarkable hotel. If you can afford the $12,000/night price tag, it is more than a sight to see. What I enjoyed most was the opportunity to see a five-star hotel and truly understand how its operations differ from a “regular” hotel. I asked our tour guide, Matti, what accommodations the hotel can offer it’s guests. He replied, “anything that is legal is possible.” He then described an instance where he booked a helicopter for a guest to fly from Dublin to the hotel, WOW! We also ended up meeting a JWU Alumni. The Alumni recognized us and started chatting, only to find out later that the owner was sitting right next to him!
After the hotel, we visited GMIT university, a school that has a partnership with JWU’s College of Culinary Arts. They too offer a hospitality program. We toured the facilities and met with the Dean of the Hospitality school! We were then treated to a free meal sponsored by the university. They have a training dining room for it’s students (similar to JWU) where students practice proper dining etiquette and serving styles. It was quite delicious.
My group and I managed this day but to be honest, it’s almost as if we had done it already. We spent a lot of time researching everything, including the factors I didn’t mention above. How much was breakfast? Where was breakfast? How are we getting downtown with 30 people? What is the cheapest option and is it safe? Is everyone going to be okay with our method of transportation? What if something bad happens, like losing a group member? What if we run late, do we have a back-up plan? OUR GRADE DEPENDS ON THIS?! Do we schedule bathroom breaks? What if something gets cancelled? How much is lunch? What if someone didn’t bring enough money? Are there alternatives to all of our plans? If you thought of any of these questions while reading this, congratulations, you’re born to be in Hospitality. Welcome to the club :)
These questions didn’t come to us at once, which is why it took us the entire trimester to plan one day. It was tough, I’ll admit. But as I mentioned before, I have a newfound appreciation for this industry and I LOVE IT!