Although i have only started my internship 2/3 weeks ago, i already have so much to say. As interns in a foreign country so far away home, and where language and culture are so different then what we are used to, we tend to get very misunderstood by our managers, co-workers and most times our internship co-coordinatior. So please anyone wishing to apply to future schools abroad, please contact a student you might know and ask about their experience. Agents usually earn commission for every student that applies, most of the time have either no experience as a student in the school or they aren’t very helpful. Switzerland is a beautiful country and its well known for higher education in the hospitality course. Here is where working as an intern in the hospitality section is not so great: gender, language and race discrimination is quite heavily portrayed as well as its high living expenses. Meaning, unless your race is white, or speak perfect German or French, or if you’re not a guy, chances of getting into a good reputation work place where you can really make use of the chance to get great experience is really difficult. These are some things i have taken note from my friends who went to intern, and also that happened to myself.
I speak extremely little French, as we aren’t taught much french in school. Residence of Switzerland who don’t have much foreigner contacts will not be understanding of us who don’t speak good for fluent French. I speak fluent Mandarin, English and Indonesian, and some Korean then there is French. Asian languages are easier for me then Latin based languages like French or German because i was raised, obviously, in Asia. There are some really nice local customers who knows my struggle in their language, and they will repeat once more their order for me or they will speak in English if they can speak. I really appreciate their understanding. But as i have only started working for a couple of weeks, how much improvement can my French get? When we do service practical in school, its all in English and we serve our schoolmates and teachers. Now we are suddenly pushed into the whole service section with full of French and German customers, its normal to be nervous.
Whenever i start my shift, my manager will not be in the restaurant nor will he be in during most of the service hours. When I’m doing perfectly fine, he’s not there to see. But when i have an occasional slip, he tends to see me. Two weeks i’ve worked and he has concerns about me. Well you don’t see my concerns it seem. My shifts are supposed to be 10:30 to 2:30, 18:30 till 23:00. But most times i have to stay until at least 30 minutes as people here do take their time to enjoy their meal. Some customers do occasionally sit for 3 hours, even till over 11pm. As interns, we do not get paid over CHF 2100 (before subtractions of tax and insurance), usually after accommodations we have left around 1200 CHF or less. Most of us do not get paid of OT. Its an internship, its a place where i will be working for the next 6 months. Internships are where students are suppose to learn and work at the same time. But for the past few nights even though it will be past 11:20pm and there are nothing left to clean up or do, instead of letting me go, we just all stand there and look at nothing. Which i do not understand, what is the point of standing around in the middle of the night when closing time is 11pm and i was already suppose to leave after everything has been cleaned? Im here to learn, so if there is something to do its alright to let me do it. but if its already past my working hours and there are nothing to do, why not let me leave?
I do recognise the fact that i was late a couple of time, its mostly because i don’t live in the city of where i work. The school “mentioned” that they and the place i work will also provide some assistance for accommodations, but since i can’t find anything before i was living in a city 20 minutes away. Intern coordination blames my inefficiency for not looking by myself (which i did contact many places but they would either only want locals or at least 1 year rent, not 6 months, manager says “i’m operating a business”. The term “Internship” is actually just a nicer word for “Cheap Labour”. The most ironic thing an internship coordinator can say is “For further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.”, because in the school that I’m studying all the students know assistance will not be provided for students in internship as we do not pay for school fees as compared to students currently studying in campus. We are students under the school but not active paying students. If i was the only one with this opinion, well i just have to suck it in. But since visiting a couple of friends doing their internships, they also share the same thought as me apparently but just suppressed.
I don’t even know anymore what to expect in the coming future. I have come to Switzerland to get more education and experience, but I’m getting less then i have expected. My parents has paid so much for my school fees and living expenses but so far, I’m not getting things worth what my parents has paid nor the expectations that i have. That is why so many students end up transferring to another school or just plain dropping out of the school. This is also why i will not just promote blindly because i have experienced and i was disappointed. Now, all i can do is just pray for the best…