Nav Singh's internship at Zoku Amsterdam

Expectations versus reality

“Hotels are glamorous. I can’t wait to be in a suit and heels strutting around greeting guests.”

Hello! My name is Nav Singh and I am 20 years old. I am currently completing my first year internship at ZOKU Amsterdam where I am what they call a ‘sidekick’. This role means I get to gain experience in the departments of hospitality such as kitchen, front desk and bar. This is one of the two internships that I will be completing in my time here at Hotel Management School Maastricht, which is one of the reasons why I chose this course here in Maastricht. Besides being a fairly international city, the internships (namely the one at the end of the course) provide great experience and hopefully a tempting job offer! However, let’s not get ahead of ourselves - keep on reading to find out what I expected from my operational internship versus how I experienced the reality of it :) 

Hotel Management School Maastricht student Nav Singh
Nav Sighn

Hotels are glamorous

“Hotels are glamorous. I can’t wait to be in a suit and heels strutting around greeting guests,” I thought to myself days before my internship started. While this may be what a guest experiences when they walk into a gorgeous hotel, it is not what we as the operations team experience. Allow me to walk you through my first work experience (ever!) and how it differed from what I expected. 

The hours

My shifts are normally around 8 to 8.5 hours. Not that bad right? I’ve heard of longer working hours. However, the first few days felt like eternity and I thought it would never come to an end. I remember thinking to myself that this better not be how it is for the next 5 months. But sure enough, as I was learning more and therefore becoming more independent, the time began to pass quicker. While some days truly felt longer than others, the majority flew by in a fun manner. 

Guest relations

“I just love talking to people and being sociable” is the standard response of any hospitality student upon being asked why they chose this study path. And fair enough! I know that it’s my answer, and it’s completely genuine. However in these times, this becomes extremely limited. After a guest has traveled all the way to your hotel, they may not want to have a lengthy chat at check in. Your chance to do this may be while getting their order or bumping into them and they had a question to ask. Yet, with the corona regulations enforced here in The Netherlands, we are unable to serve meals and drinks in our public spaces and have to apologetically inform the guests of this. Most times, they don’t even know this before they have arrived which makes for a rocky start. Talking and being sociable has evidently changed for the time being. 

Dishes and more!

Like I mentioned earlier, what the operations team feels like is much different to what we would like a guest to feel like. I work in an all-round internship which essentially means I will do just about anything behind the scenes and that includes, yes you’ve guessed it...the dishes. A chore that I do not enjoy even at home, and most definitely something I don’t enjoy in the workplace. Logical you might think, right? No one likes doing the dishes. Not the case! I have had many conversations with people who seem to really enjoy that aspect, but I was not one of them. But that’s okay as I’m realizing now, it’s okay to have aspects of your job that you don’t necessarily like (especially if it’s your internship, because it’s a learning opportunity to see what you like and what you don’t!). 

Explore the world of hospitality

Anyways, I hope to not have frightened you with my experiences! Doing my internship during these times is incredibly unique, and if you are reading this in anticipation of your upcoming internships whether they are soon or still a while away, just know that you will have different and similar experiences and that’s what the fun is all about. Exploring this world of hospitality from as many angles as you can. 

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