Discovering a new culture through an internship

Discovering a new culture through an internship


PositionTerm 3

SchoolCésar Ritz Colleges

ProgramBachelor's Degree in Hospitality and Management


César Ritz Colleges Switzerland student intern at Ritz-Carlton Japan

Ekaterina is a 19-year-old Russian student currently in Term 3 of the Bachelor's Degree in Hospitality and Management at César Ritz Colleges Switzerland (CRCS). Her passion for traveling and experiencing other cultures and her desire to make people happy through her welcoming and generous personality inspired her to choose the hospitality path.

Where did you do your internship, and how was the experience?

For my first internship, I made the life-changing decision to fly to Tokyo, Japan, where, thanks in part to the reputation of my education at CRCS, I was able to secure an internship at one of the most notable hospitality industry establishments: The Ritz-Carlton.

The whole experience was really memorable. I was fascinated by the cordiality and attention to detail of the Japanese; they always pay respect and bow when they meet new people. The first thing I noticed when I arrived was the soothing atmosphere that characterized the property and how everyone was well-educated. These aspects perfectly reflected Japanese culture and aligned nicely with my education at CRCS.

How about the tasks? Did you have any task you enjoyed the most?

As an intern, I rotated through different restaurant positions, starting as a hostess. I arranged reservations, welcomed guests, and guided them to their tables. I then worked as a waitress, where I followed the protocol food and beverage service sequence I learned at CRCS. Finally, I worked as a bartender – starting with beverages that were not too complicated to prepare! In all positions, I also carried out many mise en place tasks, such as folding napkins and polishing in the restaurant's back office. Though it may seem like general restaurant work, working under the exacting standards of a 5-star hotel like the Ritz Carlton is an experience in its own right, and these positions are not easy to get. 

However, I soon discovered that I liked the office work side of my job the best. I especially enjoyed updating the Excel file where I would finalize the daily report that included the number of guests who had breakfast, complaints received, and the overall flow of the service.

Ekaterina Japan

Did you face a particularly daunting challenge? If so, how did you overcome it?

The language barrier was the most challenging thing I encountered, and it took work to alleviate this difficulty. The language problem often led to miscommunication and reduced the possibility of forming connections with the guests. However, the managers in charge were proficient in English and constantly supported me. In order to meet my managers' expectations, I committed myself to learning the basic food and beverage terminology in Japanese so that I could try to communicate with people. Ultimately, I slowly became more confident speaking in limited Japanese while taking orders and greeting guests.

Your next internship will happen six months from now. What do you hope to accomplish in your next position?

After the experience in the food and beverage department, I realized that the Front of House is not the area I see myself in the future. Therefore, I want to get a position working in the Back of House, such as in the marketing or sales departments, which aligns with my actual interests and curiosity.

What is your plan after graduation?

I have always been interested in the wine industry, and this passion led me to successfully obtain the WSET level 2 certificate during Term 2 last year. The wine certificate marked the beginning of converting my passion into a real job opportunity, and I am looking forward to operating my own wine shop where my interest in wine will merge with the marketing and sales skills that I am currently honing.

Since completing my internship in Japan, I have felt incredibly connected with Asian culture. So, I also plan to settle down somewhere in Asia once I graduate. Due to an enormous Asian market, the wine industry has great potential that allows talented people to start and grow their own businesses. It is a great place to be an entrepreneur.

From my experience, I learned that you need to be patient while selecting the right offer for the internship. This experience will establish your first work experience, so it needs to be chosen purposefully and adequately completed. This invaluable experience will hone your professional and interpersonal skills. Lastly, I recommend you focus on what makes you happy and not exaggerate by exploring various realities that could be overwhelming for you.

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