Going to America has always been one of my dreams, the same way that moving to the United Kingdom to complete a degree in Scotland was. Read on to find out more about my International Tourism Management placement in the USA.
Finding out about placement opportunities
I became interested in hospitality when I worked as a barista in a café and started to learn more about the UK hospitality industry. I was 19 at that point, and a year later I decided to go to college to study three years in Professional Cookery and Hospitality. I then applied to study International Tourism Management at Robert Gordon University.
Whilst studying in my 3rd year, an opportunity came to complete a placement. RGU worked together with the Yummy Job Team and I found out about Old Edwards Inn and Spa in Highlands, in North Carolina. My first round of the interview with Yummy Job was successful and the second round with Old Edwards Inn and Spa went well, I was then accepted to the programme.
I was over the moon and started to work through the visa application process. I managed to get a day trip to London and my visa was approved. Old Edwards also provided accommodation for their interns making arrangements much easier. Now there was only one thing left to do, wait for the departure!
Starting my placement in the USA
I landed in Atlanta, USA, and a minibus was waiting to take a group of us to Highlands, which was around a two hour drive. The countryside was beautiful and the management team of Old Edwards Inn were lovely and treated us like family. Once we arrived and settled into our accommodation we started to get to know the interns who were already there.
My placement was a six-month long programme, in the beginning I received training in various areas, such as using the tills, wine & beverage training, the etiquette of serving food, room service and I went on a guided tour around the hotel and grounds. Unfortunately, the pandemic impacted the first six weeks of my internship. During the time of lockdown I took the chance to explore the surrounding area and lived for my photography hobby. I got to know the small town well. The hotel provided online training through Google classrooms, so I was still able to get trained in theory whilst waiting to go back to work.
Resuming my placement after COVID-19 lockdown
The first week after I returned back to work from lockdown I worked 9am until around 3-5pm. I received food and beverage service training which included role playing with my colleagues, and I received a tour around the golf club and course, in order to become familiar with where everything was.
After the COVID restriction eased more, and the Old Edwards Club allowed inside dining my working day changed. The day started at 10am in the morning and I would set up for lunch service which included learning about the lunch specials. Lunch service finished at 3pm, where I then reset everything for the dinner service. At 4.30pm the Head Chef would tell me about the specials of the evening. Last table arrival was 8pm, and depending on the day, the finish time could be between 10pm-12am.
I worked at the restaurant as a hostess where I was responsible for taking dinner reservations and communicating with the hotel about any members with specific requests. Once guests arrived, I greeted them in a friendly manner, and showed them their table, seated them, and let them know about their server’s name. I would then inform the server that the table had arrived, and also told the kitchen to expect an order soon.
Hosting was my favourite role as polite customer service was essential, and I loved to talk to the guests. I managed to gain great time management skills, improved my communication skills, customer service skills, gained experience on phone-call reservations and improved my team working skills. I had the chance to work at a wedding and had a small chat with the bride while I was holding her veil, which was a great moment!
In Scotland I worked in a café, and I knew how important teamwork was. I always stayed with the server team to help with everyday cleaning after the service was over, so they managed to finish at a decent time.
Favourite moments on my placement
One of my favourite moments of my placement in the USA was in August, when we had an Employee Appreciation Day. All the workers of the club spent a day in Glen Cove by the lake. We had a BBQ, food and drinks, games and a chance to go swimming and kayaking on the lake. One of my other most memorable moments was when a black bear appeared at the golf course in the middle of dinner service!
How BA International Tourism Management helped my placement
Learning from the course, International Tourism Management, helped me when I had to complete the written report about my placement. This module was called Management in Practice. Other modules where I learned about sustainability, and the hospitality industry were very useful too. It was also great that I could contact and get advice from the Placement Office and my course leader too.
I started my degree through the Degree Link programme with NESCOL, so I joined to RGU in Year 3. I think my placement and the two years I spent in RGU helped me to become more mature and grown up. I chose International Tourism Management, as personally I love travelling, and I am very much looking forward to travelling again. I learned a lot in 4th year, and overall, all of my modules were helpful for producing my dissertation.
My placement in the USA was a once in a life-time experience, that I am glad I took. I got to learn about the American culture in person and had the chance to live the American dream. I think I have grown both professionally and as a person, and I can use the skills and experiences both at work and in life. I met amazing people and managed to make some close friends too that I still keep in touch with. I’m even planning to return the USA after completing my degree!
This placement opportunity is something that I can be proud of and I received a complete insight of American hospitality!
Are you interested in undertaking a placement in the USA or elsewhere? Find out more about placement opportunities on the RGU website.