I get the opportunity to walk out from the Waterloo Station towards the River Thames and look at the London Eye and Old War Office as I walk into the historic County Hall building. I have the great pleasure of interning in the Human Resources department at the London Marriott County Hall, a five-star hotel with breath-taking views of Big Ben (when it’s not under construction), Parliament, and the London Eye right outside the restaurant window. The HR office, on the days I am there, consists of the Director of HR (also the Director of HR at another Marriott Hotel), the HR Manager, and the HR Officer, all of whom gave me a warm welcome on my first day! What’s special about my office is that it is a very friendly and supportive environment – everyone helps one another to be the best they can be.
My first day was a bit of a culture shock, as it was for many students on their first days, because most of the employees at the hotel are not from the UK, but other countries within the European Union. I immediately had to change my communication style, because of language barriers and the “language” of hospitality – there was, and still are, a lot of things in hospitality that I had to learn. I had to quickly pick up the basics of how a hotel runs, with all of the moving pieces that come along with a service that is always on. Working in HR in a hotel was also a very big adjustment for me as things constantly move and new employees are coming to work at the spectacular hotel every couple of weeks.
There are about 170 employees at the hotel, so I had some difficulty remembering names. It worried me because employees come into the office for various reasons and I felt awkward at first asking for their name, even if I had met them once before. But, as the weeks went on, I was interacting with the other employees more for employee relations events and working on projects where I needed to talk to different people. I learned to always introduce myself so the other person would do the same and this helped me so much with learning names! Now, when I walk through the main floor, I can stop, say hello and say their name, to almost everyone I see!
Something I love about my internship, and working at a hotel, is that I get to interact with the guests and create a personal connection with them – from being in the elevator with a family and learning about the adventures they have planned for the day as we all go down to the lobby to welcoming guests with a big smile as they arrive to the hotel after a long flight, making sure they start their stay with a smile!
My advice to someone transitioning into an international internship would be to take a step back if it gets overwhelming – excuse yourself to grab a drink of water or take a walk down the hall. It can be overwhelming when you are in a new country with different ways of doing things in the workplace or even communicating. Instead of letting it get to you, remove yourself for a minute and remember that your co-workers are also learning about you and over time you will learn new things and feel more comfortable in the office!