My internship at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach

Name: Nathalie Sanchez

Hometown: El Salvador

Major: Hospitality Management (Fall 2015 G1Y Intake)

Where did you intern? What did you do there? I interned at Fontainebleau Miami Beach as a guest service agent. I was committed to enhancing the arrival experience — reflecting a world class resort and accommodating every guest’s need with attentiveness and easy engagement. I have learned how to use the property management system, Opera, as well as perform cashiering operations, including foreign currency exchange, travelers’ checks, shift closing and deposit procedures.

How did you get your internship? I applied online — and, after the interview, I was selected.

What advice do you have for those beginning the internship process? Select at least three companies that interest you, will make you grow professionally and will give you some experience.

How did your internship connect back to your coursework? A lot of courses I took taught me how to manage and to understand certain terms in the industry. I think the Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management gives us great tools for practice before we get to the “real world;” so when I was in the field, I was able to identify and get familiar with common practices easily.

What was the coolest thing about your internship or that happened during your internship? The coolest thing was solving guest challenges. At the beginning, I used to get very nervous. After a couple of weeks, I was so confident that finding a solution to satisfy guests’ needs was something challenging and different every day.

What did you like most about your experience? I enjoyed working with a team that was always there to advise me. My favorite part was being able to learn so much about a huge property and learn how to identify the different type of guests and communicate in the best possible way. Plus, I got see a lot of artists, musicians, politicians, players, and famous people staying and performing in the hotel!

What did you learn about yourself? I learned how to trust myself a little bit more, that I love working with people, and that I enjoy working under pressure, especially when making the guest happy. I also learned that I am a solution-oriented person ,and I can stay calm and control my emotions while handling situations.

How did the position increase your professional confidence? This position increased my professional confidence in so many ways that I was amazed after every single shift. The first day I was very nervous; there are a lot of things you should be able to manage, and time is key for a good service. I learned how to communicate in a professional way with the guests and multi-task while solving a challenge or offering help. I learned how to use technical terms to communicate with my coworkers and to communicate with the guests. Most importantly, I learned to avoid getting emotionally affected by some challenges, attitudes and moods I encountered during my shift.

How did you expand your professional network? There were so many business people around the hotel that were always happy to share a business card or simply know more about you. I developed communication skills that helped me build an open mind and empathetic heart. By sharing my story, I met great people that have been working in the industry for a long time and advised me in so many ways for my career. I connected with them on LinkedIn to have them as contacts for the future.

How did it help you prove yourself in the “real-world”? As an international student, there were so many thoughts I had on my first day. I was nervous and scared about making mistakes or not being able to overcome the new cultural shock. After a couple of weeks, I learned that making mistakes was the best way to learn and that there are so many opportunities out there that it is just a matter of taking advantage of them to succeed.