My hospitality internship at a country club

Name: Aruzhan Toleubay

Hometown: Almaty City, Kazakhstan

Major: Hospitality management with an emphasis in event management

Where did you intern? What did you do there? I had a food and beverage internship over the summer with the Club at Ibis in West Palm Beach. It is an award-winning country club community. I was their first F-1 visa international intern from Kazakhstan!

As interns, we all learned a lot about restaurants and banquets as well as how to manage workers, work as a team, communicate with club members and find solutions to critical situations. During the first week, we were trained in safety, CPR, restaurants, serving, wines and liquor and event planning. Besides that, we learned something new every day. I love how we had the opportunity to participate in different kinds of events (like weddings, business meetings, golf and tennis tournaments, weddings, etc.) and also different styles of restaurants.

What was the coolest thing about your internship? Beyond working with the management, which is made up of people with drive and passion and who inspired me each and every day, the club members are extremely interesting and hospitable people. They asked me about my motherland, and some of them are even planning to visit my country in future! That made me motivated to share my culture even more and open my own restaurant with my national food when I graduate.

What did you like most about your experience? I like how I learned to work as part of a team, because I am a type of person who will do every project by myself rather than ask help from others. However, at the end of a day, doing everything alone is not a good solution. I realized how important is to have people by your side who you can trust, and that together, you can do the work faster!

How did the position increase your professional confidence? It literally changed my mind. The old Aru was scared of making mistakes and tried to do everything perfectly; now I understand that there is no such a thing as perfection. What is perfect for me might not be perfect for you. And I am not scared of making and correcting mistakes now. That is how we develop and challenge ourselves.

How did it help you prove yourself in the “real world”? The internship illustrated the difference between university knowledge and real-life experience. In class, a professor gives examples and the solutions. In an internship, you never know what problems you will have to solve that day, and you have to work out a plan as you go. In my opinion that is the main difference. Because of this, I strongly recommend that students start working now, and then by the time they graduate they will have the experience to become an excellent leader and professional in their field.

What advice do you have for those beginning the internship process? Don’t be afraid to try different positions, don’t be afraid to work hard and don’t be afraid to start from the bottom. It is good to start working while you are young. If you want to become a manager (a really good manager) of a restaurant, you need to learn every position. Maybe it will take some time, but you will eventually know and appreciate everyone’s work, and you will become a really good leader — a manager who will be able to support, motivate and manage the team, communicate with customers and resolve critical situations and problems. So, don’t be afraid of learning and trying new things.