My Most Valuable Skills Learned in London

Even though my time in London was cut short, to say I learned a few transferable skills would be an understatement. Interning at a hotel where a majority of the employees are from outside the UK enhanced many skills: cross-cultural communication and adapting to the ever-changing environment of the hospitality industry were two of the most valuable.

As I mentioned before, a little over 75% of the employees working at the hotel are from outside the UK, most from the EU or EEA. On my first day at my internship, I was overwhelmed because I needed to quickly tailor my communication style to a diverse group of needs. I learned that I couldn’t assume people knew what I was talking about when asked about where I’m from, as most people outside the US don’t know Maryland, but they know Washington DC.

I learned to speak with more nonverbal cues to help portray my message even if the verbal part was getting lost – being more expressive in my face to show emotions when engaging in conversation was very important. I also learned to be comfortable with asking someone to repeat what they said, that it’s not disrespectful because I want to make sure I understood everything that was communicated to me. Just as I needed to learn to communicate with my colleagues, I needed to communicate when I was having difficulty so I could have a productive and active conversation.

Interning in the hospitality industry, specifically hotels, taught me a lot about adaptability. This sector is ever-changing as guests are arriving and leaving non-stop, and their needs must always be satisfied. Even though I didn’t interact directly with guests as a part of my regular work, my work was always changing too. The HR department, including me, had four people, so we all took on a vast array of responsibilities.

Since the UK is leaving the EU, a lot of my work revolved around making sure all of our employees were of the pre-settlement or settlement status in Britain to allow them to continue working in the country. As the semester went on, the process for understanding an employee’s status changed quite a few times, so I had to learn the processes and new policies quickly. In order for me to carry out my responsibilities, I needed to swiftly adapt to the new process.

There were also times where I was reviewing holidays for employees, something that needs to be done very carefully, and when an employee came into the office with a concern, I needed to shift gears mentally so I could fully focus on their needs. Moments like this also enhanced my adaptability skills as I learned to adapt to a switch focus on very different needs.