Your first internship helps you find your place in this world, teaches you to be patient, understanding and can make you recognise your differences.
Maryia Aliakseyenka moved to Brig, Switzerland from Belarus to complete her Master’s degree at César Ritz Colleges – an educational experience that has taken her far beyond the classroom.
How did it feel to leave home and move to Switzerland?
Moving to Switzerland and undergoing this programme has been an unimaginable dream – I stepped out of my life and have discovered an entire new world around me.
What programme are you studying?
I am studying for my Master’s degree in International Business in Hotel and Tourism Management. The programme is 1 year on campus and 6 months on internship.
Where did you spend your internship?
I accepted a role with Bergenstock Hotels and Resorts in Lucerne. I met them at the International Recruitment Forum last year. Introduced myself and left my CV. I followed up with an email and they contacted me. It took me 4 hours and 4 trains to get to the interview. Then I had to give an interview for one hour in German which made me very nervous. It was one my first real experiences seeing Switzerland in all of its natural beauty. The resort located above Lake Lucerne is one of the most special places in all of Switzerland!
How did you change after your internship experience?
I was once told that we won’t be the same people after our first internship – now I know this is true.
My internship was my first step out of student life and into serious life. It was very challenging in terms of physical work and in terms of adapting to a very different way of mentality and way of thinking.
I come from a country where there remains a large divide between men and women. For example – in my country if someone saw me carrying something heavy they would help me right away. Living in Switzerland, I had to adapt. The experience taught me a lot a lot about hospitality, operations and teamwork and how to work in a diverse cultural environment . Although it was a challenge, I don’t regret anything.
What has been the most important lesson you have learned along the way?
When I first moved to Switzerland I was very attracted to the idea of ambition for a better job and lifestyle and men and women operating at the same level. Growing up I didn’t value the simple things like a gentleman opening the door for a woman. But after living and working away from home, I realize now that where I come from has shaped me into who I am today and although I am capable of adapting I am not interested in changing who I am.
Although I found it difficult sometimes to find commonalities with my colleagues from Western Europe, every single one of my experiences have taught me so much and have made me stronger.
Have your goals now changed since you began as a student?
I know now more than ever that I have what it takes to become a leader – I feel this. But I also know that I am not willing to make compromises when it comes to building and having a family while growing my career. Knowing this, my goal today is to keep discovering opportunities in hospitality and find the best place for me in it professionally.
I could’ve never imagined the amount of possibilities that I now have in front of me all around the world. And this is all because of the decision I took to study in Switzerland.
Maryia Aliakseyenka is a current student at César Ritz Colleges Switzerland working towards her Master’s degree in International Business in Hotel and Tourism Management.
|Bachelor of Arts||MA in Hospitality||MA in Entrepreneurship|