Five 4th year LTM students are back from their one-year international internship in the US. Crisha Aguila and Fheena Catchuela were deployed at Hyatt Regency Green Bay in Wisconsin while Rhanaze Delara, Digiena Jao, and Toni Maxilom had their deployment at Hyatt Regency St. Louis of the Arch, Missouri.
Their training plan included a quarterly job rotation on the different departments of the hotel from front office to food and beverage operations, with final training area on managing a group of new trainees under their supervision. They were immersed on the operations of the host properties, performing tasks as food and beverage assistant, banquet server, barista, hostess and food runner, cashier, store, and order support staff.
But what was it like for our LTM students to be on their own in another country? What was it like to leave the comforts of their home and find themselves being adults in the US? Our students penned their thoughts to inspire future student-trainees to embark on a global internship program to further enhance their skills. Here’s what they have to say:
CBEA: Hello guys! So what was it like being alone in the US for your internship?
Rhanaze: I remember feeling excited and scared for this internship. I was excited to experience the American culture and to explore the beauty of USA but then I got scared because all my life I’ve been dependent on my parents. This is the first time I will be doing things on my own. It is really a big step for me to be independent and be responsible. I never thought that I will learn to stand on my own and I couldn’t be more proud of myself.
Toni: At first, I thought it was going to be so hard and sad because I will be away from my family. But as days passed, I didn't even realize that I was already coping with my daily routine. I didn't feel alone because of the new support system (friends, co-workers) that I've gained throughout my entire journey. They helped me adapt in a new environment.
Crisha: I became more independent when it came to responsibilities while I was in the US – paying for utilities and rent and also buying groceries. My internship made me a strong and independent woman, armed not only with skills but life lessons too.
CBEA: What were the challenges that you met? How did you deal with them?
Toni: There were a lot of challenges that really molded me into a better and stronger person, some of which are adapting to the American culture, spending my money wisely, and surviving co-workers and guests who are rude and disrespectful. How did I deal with all these? I guess I just set my mind to be positive – to always look at the brighter side of things. I reminded myself to be smart in every decision I make and be respectful towards others.
Crisha: I did not feel homesick at first. But when the Christmas holidays came that’s when I felt it. It was also during my stay in the US when a family member of ours died. I was not able to pay my final respects because returning to the Philippines and re-processing my papers entailed a lot of work. I was lucky because my parents did everything so I didn’t have to worry and they supported me during this difficult time.
CBEA: What was your best experience in the US? Are there any lessons you would like to share with us?
Rhanaze: My best experience is the entire internship program. By meeting new people, I learned different languages and cultures. Everyone is always there to help, guide, and encourage you. I remember one time when I made a mistake, I thought my manager would get mad at me but instead she told me that it is fine to make mistakes sometimes and that I can do anything that I set my mind to. What I want to share, as cliché as it sounds, is that it is okay to make mistakes at one point in your life because that is when you know you are learning.
Fheena: The best experience that I had in the US is having fun while working. Eventually, it became easy to be a server especially with my co-workers. While work is draining and stressful, I learned not to sweat the small stuff – I enjoyed every moment.
Digiena: Though the trainings really helped a lot with honing my skills, the people I met were a huge part of my transformation. Also, the best part is making a living for myself. I learned to think wisely and act prudently because temptation to buy a lot of stuff is there. I just have to control myself and save because it will really help me as I start my career when I go back to the Philippines.
CBEA: Any tips for the next batch taking their internship?
Rhanaze: Be committed and treat your internship like it is a real job. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and to push yourself. Get to know the people around you. If you don’t know anything or are confused about something don’t hesitate to ask your managers because that’s when they see your eagerness to do the job and your dedication to learn.
Fheena: For the next batch of interns, stand for yourself, don’t let other people get you down with their unkind words and don’t forget to have fun at work. Make time to relax and enjoy!
Toni: Always be responsible and think smart because nobody can help you but yourself. Always be true and honest with yourself and to the people around you. Have a kind and understanding heart!
Crisha: Learn to stand up for yourself, speak for yourself, and know your rights while you’re in the US. Just enjoy. It’s the key to a memorable and wonderful internship.
CBEA: Lastly, what is your biggest takeaway from the internship?
Rhanaze: I learned to be more punctual because time is very important in this industry. I became more passionate about the things I do, it provided me the opportunity to grow and learn from my mistakes. It made me ready not just physically but also mentally and spiritually for whatever challenges I will face in my future work.
Fheena: My biggest takeaway from the internship is the good and happy memories at work and even outside it. Struggles and problems arose but positivity kept me going.
Toni: My biggest takeaway is to always have a kind and understanding heart and everything will follow. Nobody's perfect but if you want something, go for it! Be grateful to those who support and love you, especially God and your family.