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Hospitality career begins with internship

Hospitality+career+begins+with+internship

Oliver Madison is well-traveled. He has visited more than ten European countries and endured a move to Marin from the south of France when he was in fifth grade. Beginning on July 17th, however, he will exchange his suitcase for a luggage trolley as he travels back to Europe to take an internship working in a German hotel.

There, he will take on almost every task in the hotel business including cleaning rooms, checking in guests, and standing by as an advisor in the human resource department.

Madison acquired the internship through a company called Steigenberger that will pay him 500 euros a month, though he has yet to decide on the specific venue of his internship. The experience will bolster his résumé when, in November, he begins to apply to highly selective hospitality schools, like Lausanne Hotel School in Switzerland with the ultimate goal of becoming a hotel manager.

Getting an internship, though not required, is a very popular option for applicants to make themselves more appealing to hotel schools.

Even if he is not accepted at Lausanne, Madison will benefit from his year-long tenure in the hotel business. “Doing internships is not only beneficial for me in the short term but in the long term as well because it helps build a relationship with the hotel,” Madison said. “I’m like an investment for them in that they’ll help me now and I would work at that same hotel chain afterward.”

Working in a hotel will expose Madison to the complex inner workings of the business he one day hopes to call his own, a knowledge that he said was essential for managers who must know how to advise every worker, from the cook to the maid to the clerk at the front desk.

Although he could have chosen to conduct his internship domestically, he said that besides giving him greater independence, returning to Germany will allow him to readjust himself to the language and culture of his native country. In addition to working at a hotel, he plans to take a German class.

Madison didn’t always envision himself becoming a hotel manager. Only last year, he had his mind set on playing goalie for a college lacrosse program.

If life had complied with the trajectory he set for himself as a junior, his athleticism and build would likely have translated to the goalie slot on a college roster. As it is however, life, or rather a wayward lacrosse ball, got in the way.

“I was playing at a camp when I got hit in the hand with a lacrosse ball through a glove and [my hand] broke. I tried to play on it, but the doctor said I needed surgery. I decided not to play for most of the summer and let it heal,” Madison said.

High school lacrosse recruiters typically recruit predominantly from the traditional East Coast powerhouses, causing players from the West to often depend on their showings at camps during the summer to impress scouts and subsequently receive college offers. Losing this window to injury forced Madison to reconsider his course.

“I got offers from [Division III]. But getting injured made me think, if I do get hurt again, will I really be happy going to one these small DIII schools?” he said. “So instead, I decided to look in Europe and see what my options were. I found hotel schools and I liked the idea because it gives me a way to learn about how to run any type of business. It is hotel management school, but it’s setting you up to be a manager of any company.”

 Madison’s past experience abroad and selfless temperament make him uniquely suited for the demands and rigors of hotel management.

 “You have to be willing to serve people and not necessarily get thanked,” he said. “A hotel never stops so you’ve got to be willing to give up your own needs, to be a leader but understand what people are going through.”

Madison’s multicultural background allows him to empathize and communicate with a wider range of people than some of his counterparts in the hospitality industry. He can fluently speak German and English and thoroughly understands French. Yet, he still expects the transition between continents to be jarring.

Routines are comfortable; you do them for a reason.I’m going to miss lacrosse and seeing the same friends every day. It’s going to be a big change. But I’m really looking forward to the change in location, the opportunity to make new friends, meet new people, to be on my own,” Madison said.

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About the Contributor
Blake Alm, Author