La Consolacion College Bacolod President Sr. Joan Infante, OSA, met with A Dapper Management Consultancy Program Director Adalbert Alacaide to discuss the renewal of a memorandum of agreement with some of Thailand’s best luxury hotels on the 6-month international internship of the culinary, hospitality, and tourism management programs.
The program started in 2016 and was briefly halted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that the travel restriction is lifted and the tourism sector is beginning to bounce back, luxury hotels in Thailand are eager to reopen the program.
“Our clients in Thailand have a high preference for Filipino interns because they can speak English well, and they have proven themselves competent in various areas of hotel operations,” Alcaide said.
Alcaide said that the partners are pleased to have LCC students as they quickly adjust to the work environment and are equipped with the necessary skills to meet the international clientele’s expectations. He added that students tend to progress rather quickly and that they could work well with highly-skilled professionals and, more importantly, can communicate effectively with them.
Sr. Infante said that LCC Bacolod is keen to renew the agreement with the luxury hotels in Thailand. “We know most of our students who enrolled in the hospitality and tourism programs are looking forward to working abroad. The internship in Thailand is a great training ground for students to get first-hand training at world-class hotels, so we make sure that within their training, they have the most exposure possible so they may become flexible and multi-skilled”, Sr. Infante said.
Among the luxury hotels are Centara Grand Hotels & Resorts, the largest deluxe and first-class hotel in Thailand, Siam Design Hotel Bangkok, and The Ayara Hilltops Boutique Resort and Spa. Each hotel offers various salary and benefit schemes for the interns: daily duty uniforms with laundry services, transportation, and food allowances are provided for all the interns; Full accommodation feature a condo-type apartment that is fully air-conditioned with free use of WiFi and pool amenities.
Christian Angelo Ituriaga, BSHM Program Head, was one of the faculty who previously visited the students while they were having their practicum in Thailand. “The hotel establishments where our students work take good care of them. They provide secure accommodation for them and treat them like their own regular employees. The program is a big opportunity for students to learn and earn simultaneously. At the end of their program, they can earn more than they have spent not only because of their savings but because they come out of it more competent and ready for the world”, he said.
Malory Gubagaras, an alumna who completed the internship program, said that her experience had taught her to be more independent and responsible. She said that the responsibilities are real, and the company puts the same level of expectations on them as they would with regular employees.
“During the training, I started as a runner. I would get empty plates from the guests’ tables, bus out plates, and cutleries. But now, I take orders and use the POS. I am made to handle guest requests and sometimes become a chief station. My job is not as easy as I expected it to be. Still, I learned so much from experience,” added Gubagaras, who had been assigned to various dining restaurants and bars of Centara Grand at Central World in Bangkok.
Gubagaras said that the whole experience of being away from her family has taught her to trust her own self more and that she has become a more confident person. “I would recommend that other students aspiring to work in the hospitality industry experience practicum outside the Philippines. You get to put yourself in a different culture, learn a new language and meet new friends who are not from other countries. The experience is different,” Gubagaras added.
Students were treated like professionals, said Sr. Maria A. Garcia, OSA, former LCCB President, who made a personal visit last June 2016. She said that some interns are assigned more technical work, which is different from their hiring assignment. Students were originally hired to do frontline work as front desk operations and food service. Sr. Garcia added that the management saw that some students could do more technical work, so some have been reassigned to work closely with the chefs.
Sr. Garcia also said that apart from their earning salary, they are provided with decent accommodations that allow them to use facilities such as a swimming pool and gym. At Siam Design Hotels, she added that students are housed in the hotel, so they can enjoy amenities free of charge.
Rodjhun Navarro, LCC’s VP for Linkages, said that the college consistently provides job opportunities for students even before graduation through rigid on-the-job training that is not only limited to local partners but also internationally. “If college education is to be seen as an investment, students are getting quick returns from the allowances given to them while on training. That may not be the case in other programs where students spend so much for internship and are not getting some form of remuneration for their service,” he added.
LCC Bacolod also sends students to the US under the J1 VISA program, where almost a hundred students have undergone either a 6-month or a 12-month internship in the country’s largest hotel and resort chains like Gaylord and Omni.