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Welcome to a career in hospitality

DONG Hongbo, 22, is about to graduate from Shanghai Institute of Tourism with the major in hospitality.

Coming from Baisha in Jilin Province, she has just finished a six-month internship at Golden Tulip Ashar Suites City Center in Jing'an District.

Although excited about the experience, she finds being a professional working at a hotel much different from what she once learned from TV series set in hotels.

"My choice of major was influenced by a South Korean TV series called 'Hotelier' produced in 2001," Dong says. "I was attracted by the sound working environment and high-end services provided by the hotel in the TV play. Thinking that serving people could be fun, I chose hospitality as my major."

In contrast with Dong's romantic imagination about her working life at a hotel, as a fresh receptionist, she actually faced each workday by wearing a smile all day long and spending a lot of time standing.

"It is hard work and not as glorious as I used to think. But I still like it," she says.

Wang Peilai, vice director of the Hospitality Management Major of Shanghai Institute of Tourism, believes that passion, cooperation, communication and working from grass-roots level is vital for a successful career in the hospitality industry.

"The industry has high demands on experience. What students learn at school should be adapted in practice at hotels," Wang says. "It is a hot major welcomed by students and employers."

The hospitality major at the institute has a history of 32 years. Most students set their career sights on a position with a high-end, international brand hotel.

"Although some might worry about the post-Expo gloom for the hospitality industry, I believe the fast development of the modern service industry in Shanghai will be a great support to the industry," Wang says.

"I'm confident about our college's employment rate. Several hotels will recruit some interns from our college in May."

To support employment, the college's alumni, many of whom have become managers at well-known hotels, will give lectures for the students.

Some even bring with them job opportunities.

It is true that many hotels have a close connection with local universities and colleges which have hospitality and tourism majors in Shanghai and other cities in China.

At InterContinental Shanghai Expo, the hotel has a certain budget each year to hire internship students who are interested in the hospitality industry, especially those majoring in hospitalityand tourism.

"It is a good way for them to practice and get more chances to do on-the-job training besides the theory study," says Winnie Wang, the hotel's area director of human resources.

"If their internship is their last semester, as per their qualification, we welcome them to stay as an official employee."

Viewing that today's job market of the MICE industry is effectively a growing market, Wang says the hotel needs more talented staff for event sales, event services and catering services, among others. New graduates have to "learn from grass-roots level, be patient, open-minded," and the hotel has fast-track programs in place for them to grow.

In Wang's eyes, to be able to handle a high workload and pressure are sometimes more important than appearance.

Jacqueline Song, director of human resources at Sofitel Shanghai Hyland, has been working at the hotel for more than 10 years.

Many points of criteria are considered preferred by the hotel when recruitment is being done. According to Song, positive attitude, warm personality, language skills, team-working spirit and appearance will be taken into consideration.

"We do offer the opportunities of internship to the students majoring in hospitality and tourism," Song says. "However, we will balance whether to enroll them as official employees depending on the hotel needs and their personal performance."


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