Your Wellbeing Matters
Our wellbeing in these times is more important than ever. Self-care both physical and psychological are key pillars that help us keep going. We sat down with Ana Leah, our Organizational Development Manager to talk about our students’ and candidates’ wellbeing and how we can help.
How has our school adapted to this pandemic period regarding the internship & career development plan?
The health crisis that takes place during these times started just before our students were supposed to start their internship period. At that time, they all had contracts for the summer or for 1-year internships, mostly outside the country. We also had over 100 students outside the country in 1-year internships in the US, Europe and Dubai. We immediately realized that we had to make sure that all our students are safe before anything else. So, we communicated with the students who were outside Romania to ensure that they have resources to stay where they are, or they are safely returning home for the duration of the quarantine. Our full support went their way.
The most important aspect during this period was and continues to be communication. Communication with our industry partners and students is vital to ensure a smooth adaptation to the new circumstances.
Regarding the students who were supposed to leave for internships we advised them to stay home and stay healthy, respecting the social distancing rules and regulations. Meanwhile, we focused on helping them continue their personal and career growth. We organized online webinars, online counseling and helped students revise their CV and online career accounts so that they are in a good shape when they start applying for internships and jobs once the crisis passes.
Some hotels and restaurants reopened and continued their collaboration with the students. Most of the host companies located abroad had to postpone the internships due to the travel restrictions and other local restrictions. However, they will gladly receive the students for the next season.
We continue to keep our commitment to the students and help them gain practical skills, relevant to the culinary industry, so we adapted and created new ways for the students to continue their growth. We worked on developing existing partnerships and creating new ones in Romania, creating internship options which did not exist until now, including online internships. We now have a Summer Experience Program which is available for the students. This program offers various options for work experiences in Romania or online. The main purpose of our efforts is to continue to help our students gain relevant work experience during this summer and gain practical skills which are valuable for their future career.
Our school values the blend between academic knowledge and practical experience. What will happen with the internships in the next period?
Or school will continue to blend academic knowledge and practical experience as this blend is vital for student’s development. The transformational experience that takes place in our students is happening due to the exposure to hands-on experiences that help them grow. Besides the opportunity to put knowledge into practice and test how good you are with some tasks and how less good you are with others, the direct encounter with their colleagues, managers & future mentors, clients, the fun experiences, the sad ones, challenges encountered and how they manage to overcome them, the places they visit – they are all transformational, they are all helping students discover themselves, the world and adjust themselves to become the best version and succeed in their lives.
Internships will continue as usual, adapted to the new policies that appear due to the health regulations. We are hopeful that the hospitality industry recovers and adapts, and we have clear signs from the industry that this is happening. All the big hotel chains have now created strategies to reopen and created frameworks on how to work in new settings while improving health related policies. We will continue communicating with the industry, stay close to it, follow the updates and adapt accordingly.
One of the most important aspects for us is the wellbeing of our candidates & students. As you are also a certified counselor, can you please tell us what our initiatives have been on this front?
In the Career Office we are available for students and candidates both for personal counseling and career coaching. We are interested in student’s wellbeing and helping them reach their full potential.
Students can reach out to us no matter the difficulty they encounter. We train them to be successful professionals and we also coach them on life challenges. We look behind the stories and see the bigger picture, what is happening with them behind their words, behaviors and try to help them find solutions they need to manage their challenges.
Usually, students would come and speak with us on an ‘open door’ policy, whenever they need to. Now, it has all shifted online in any shape or form the student or candidate prefers: over the phone, chat, WhatsApp, video meetings.
That sounds very interesting. How can candidates & students gain access to these services?
All they have to do is write, call or make an appointment via email. We also plan to create a virtual space, a dedicated online platform where we can offer online counseling to anyone who is interested to reach out.
What’s your message for our candidates & students?
My message is one of hope and togetherness. The culinary industry will recover, people are going to travel and seek meaningful experiences.
It is important to stay together as a community, united by our common goal, to accept the things we cannot change and make the best of what we have. Together, we can use challenges to find new opportunities just as we can use weaknesses to find strengths. In unity lies strength and together we can achieve more.
The ability to be resilient, flexible, and adaptable seem to be the ‘must have’ soft skills of the future and we plan to prepare the students gain these skills. Having good emotional intelligence skills is also very important: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management.
Last by not least, it is important to have faith and hope because there is always something positive and new on the horizon, even if we cannot yet see.