How An Internship Can Turn A Dream Into A Goal
I am walking through the streets of Ginza, Tokyo, amongst tall buildings filled with colorful signs and exclusive shops on my way to work. Outside every store there are sales associates welcoming customers, always smiling and expressing friendly greetings in Japanese. The streets are crowded, yet not many are pushing their way through the crowd as I walk around the corner to see The Peninsula, built to resemble a beautiful Japanese lantern.
Every day, coming to work in the morning was always something I looked forward to. I was doing an internship in food and beverage, and had the opportunity to work in every food and beverage outlet at The Peninsula Tokyo, to learn how they were managed and organized.
When I chose to do my internship at The Peninsula Tokyo, it was a deliberate choice in order to gain as much valuable experience as possible. Getting exposure to Asia is crucial since it has a leading international economic influence, which will continue for the rest of my career. Having an understanding for Asia is a must in any business nowadays, and in hospitality especially due to guests’ high quality expectations. Where else to learn about this than in Japan at The Peninsula? My goal had been to work in Japan for quite some time, since their high level of hospitality is known worldwide. Prior to my internship I wanted to learn more about food and beverage as well as learn about The Peninsula as a company, but ended up learning so much more than that.
The highlight of my internship was definitely working with the people that made The Peninsula Tokyo the incredible place that it is. The managers showed me exactly what kind of manager I want to become in the future, and they have given me role models to strive to resemble. I feel that it is very unique to come across a place where the staffs, everyone from the general manager, executive office, restaurant managers, waiters and stewards, are as motivating, talented and kind as at The Peninsula Tokyo. In addition, this internship gave me opportunities to explore different career interests, and they made sure I was able to explore the departments I was curious about. As I wanted to learn more about the accounting department, I spent time with the finance manager, and requests I had regarding other departments were encouraged.
As a result of working with highly talented and motivating people, this internship has not only taught me operational skills and more about the Japanese culture, but also how important it is to have a good atmosphere and positive people in the workplace. I therefore believe that an internship abroad can give you so many more experiences than you originally thought you would have, and the amount of knowledge gained can be extraordinary.
From a tourist perspective, Japan offers an endless amount of sights and activities. On my days off, I would explore the many shrines in Tokyo or travel to the various neighbourhoods which all had countless things to see. My incredibly openhearted colleagues took me to Kamakura, a small beach town outside Tokyo, where they showed me the Great Buddha and different shrines.
Living and working in Japan is very different from what we are used to here in Europe. The culture shock you experience in the beginning can be intimidating, but it is from these experiences that you grow the most. By being challenged in this way, my international curiosity has grown which I feel is very important to have as a hospitality student. I therefore warmly recommend students such as myself to travel to Japan to experience and grow as much as possible.
Looking back to my time in Tokyo, there are so many things that I miss about Japan, and moving back has become a goal of mine. Living and working in a different culture makes you take an extra step in developing yourself, which is an important factor in having an international career. I would without a doubt recommend it to anyone; it is an experience I will cherish for life.
Victoria Einarsen Westvik – Glion London Student – BBA in Hospitality Management – 1st 6-month internship
Photo credits: Victoria and The Peninsula Tokyo