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My name is Kacey Woods, I am currently on my placement year, studying BA (Hons) International Tourism and Hospitality Management.

I am currently carrying out a ‘split placement’ over two different organisations in Melbourne, Australia. I have just completed my first placement; as conference and events intern at the Sofitel Melbourne-On- Collins in Melbourne, Australia. Prior to commencing my studies at BU, I had gone to the French Alps with a children’s ski company to work for the season – it was this short experience that helped to grow my curiosity and passion for the global tourism and hospitality industry; this was one of the events that led me to undertaking my current course.

It has always been important for me to spend time living and working abroad as I believe an experience such as this would teach you so much about your own self resilience and confidence to move to another country alone and throw yourself completely into a new world of possibilities. I felt that my internship offer at the Sofitel Melbourne-On-Collins would open doors to creating connections and friendships with so many different cultures from across the globe (Melbourne being the incredible cultural melting pot that it is, possibilities were endless). Additionally, it would be a wonderful internship to add to my portfolio and kickstart my career within the luxury hospitality industry.

I decided to apply for the Conference and Events internship as I felt this was one area of hospitality which I did not yet have experience in. My initial application consistedMelbourne of sending my CV and cover letter to Sofitel, it was then from this point that I was contacted by the departmental Training Manager who asked me various questions about myself and the Sofitel Brand, before offering me my first interview with herself, and then shortly after, offering me a second interview with herself and the food and beverage operations manager.

Once I had accepted the internship offer, the placement team at BU suggested that I investigate the Turing funding scheme as I would be living in Melbourne for minimum six months. It was a straightforward application; all was needed was a traineeship agreement form with information provided by myself and the Sofitel Melbourne-On-Collins, additionally I was required to attend a Pre-departure session of cultural and intercultural competence. The Turing Scheme funding helped to support me during my mobility experience in Melbourne, which is one of the most expensive cities in the world, and second most expensive within Australia.

Upon arriving in Melbourne and getting to the Sofitel, I felt so excited to be in a new city and country and explore as much as possible. As part of my internship offer, I was able to stay at the Sofitel for 7 nights to settle into the time zone and sort out any accommodation. I had pre-organised student accommodation in the CBD of Melbourne, which is like UK accommodation in the sense that it’s close to the city with local shops and great public transport nearby. However, it was different living on the 27th floor of a skyscraper, with my bedroom window view being the city of Melbourne – a view that I still have not grown tired of 6 months later.

Throughout my time in Melbourne, I’ve met so many people and had the opportunity to do many new activities. As Sofitel brings many new interns every 6 months, I have had a great time getting to know some of the Dutch interns from hotel schools such as The Hague, we have spent much time together both in and out of work. I have also been on a few trips outside of Melbourne city such as to Phillip Island to see the Penguin Parade with my lovely flatmate from Malaysia – it’s been fascinating to hear about her culture and try the food she makes at home.A girl is smiling holding a plate of food and the words happy birthday

My internship has been working in the operational side of food and beverage, with a focus on the Conference and Events department. Throughout my studies, I look at both the operational and commercial aspects of the hospitality industry, but the operational side interests me much more now. Every single member of this team has been wonderful and so kind, and very entertaining to work with – great people always make any activity ten times more enjoyable, whether you are mid service during a cocktail event, or stacking 1000 chairs at 4AM after an event (this was more of a challenge after a long shift).

Overall, I believe that my internship at Sofitel has heightened my knowledge of cultural perspectives and opened my mind to learning and exploring new cultural norms, traditions, foods, upbringings, all through working with a multi-cultural team. For anyone contemplating working abroad, my advice would be to 100% go for it. If you have the opportunity, take it and you will open yourself up to an entirely different life and new adventures, friendships, and experiences.

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