Passion for the hospitality industry and its challenges
J.G. studiert International Hospitality Management im 6. Semester an der Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne EHL.
I discovered my passion for the hospitality industry right after my Matura, when I interned in a hotel for half a year as front desk receptionist, working in the kitchen and restaurant service, and doing housekeeping. Studying law had been an option, too, but I did not see myself working as an attorney. Moreover, the University of Lausanne seemed too anonymous for me.
When a close friend told me about EHL, I attended two open days and instantly knew I wanted to get into the program. At the same time, I was stressed out by the fact that EHL accepts only one third of candidates.
The admission procedure itself took almost three months from the application letter to the selection day on campus and included an admission assessment with online aptitude tests, interviews, a case study and a team building exercise. I am really lucky that my parents supported me both mentally and financially – also throughout the following four years.
Even though I chose the French EHL section, many lectures are in English in the last Bachelor year. To fulfil the EHL’s language requirements (C1), I spent six months in Brighton (UK). I also worked in a bakery close to Biel for seven months to earn money and improve my German. 84 percent of EHL students speak three or more languages fluently: English and/or French are compulsory, but you will also hear German, Spanish, Mandarin or Russian on campus. Any additional language class will help you choose among a wider variety of destinations for your internships.
For students without work experience, the Preparatory Year is mandatory. Its combination of practical as well as theoretical lectures and work shifts was intense and demanding. For example, I had to wait a table at ‘Berceau des Sens’ till 11 p.m. one week and then get up at 5 a.m. for a bakery workshop the next. Well into my third week, I turned up to my shift at the bar with a wrinkled blouse and had 15 minutes to reappear with an immaculate outfit. Despite the strict dress code (blog.ehl.edu/ehl-dress-code-the-basics) and other codes of conduct the atmosphere on campus is uncomplicated.
Lectures, projects, exams
Now, just before graduating, I started a nine-week, full-time consulting project. Together with other students, we developed a concept for a hotel in the Georgian mountains. After a thorough market analysis, we will write a report and present our recommendations to the external client, of course with the help of two faculty experts.
My day usually starts around 8 a.m. and ends at 7 p.m. Apart from 4 to 6 hours of lectures every day, I have to participate in midterm group projects and study for exams. This semester, I have also been busy with my «electives»: Big Data Analytics, Hotel Planning and Development (evaluating hotel sites, negotiating contracts, developing expansion strategies) and Strategic Hotel Investments – a multi-day simulation with role-playing as hotel owners, developers and consultants.
Like most students, I also used to be part of different committees: in the finance club, I organized events, e.g. a talk on blockchains and cryptocurrencies. As a school ambassador, I spent approx. eight hours a month touring the campus with potential students and companies or conducting admission interviews with EHL candidates. Additionally, I advocated for students’ interests, both as a class representative and student coordinator in the student council. As I am ambitious and love to be busy, I also worked ten hours a month as a project assistant in an asset management firm.
The EHL network
What I love most about EHL is its welcoming culture. The unique environment arises from the institute’s values: innovation, creativity, 360°-learning, excellence, but also respect and a sense of family. Everyone knows everyone among the approx. 340 students in my year. They are from dozens of nations which means I have friends from faraway countries like Vietnam and China. Moreover, the EHL network consists of more than 25 000 alumni. On LinkedIn, I once asked an alumnus for advice on my career and two hours later, he suggested I call him that same afternoon.
Internships and career prospects
I believe that the combination of theory and practice makes our degree outstanding. For my first internship, I chose a 5-star Grand Resort. As a reception trainee, I discovered the key role the front desk plays in making guests feel welcome. I then spent 6 months in the valuation and advisory team of a hotel real estate firm in Germany, getting insights into the consulting business.
The hospitality industry is increasingly driven by technology. Analysing clients’ data to get to know their expectations is a big part of it. Therefore, I would love to pursue my career as a business or data analyst for a big hotel chain or enterprise.