The hospitality industry is a dynamic industry filled with exciting opportunities. You just have to choose. You can travel the world and meet some of the most amazing people. If you are enthusiastic, hard working and have a thirst for knowledge, then hospitality is for you. If you have a dream, any dream, pursue it.”
These are the words of Sisekelo Shange, a 21 year-old International Hotel School student from Yellowwood Park in Durban, who found his way to one of the world’s most prestigious hotels – the Ritz-Carlton in Naples, Florida – as an intern.
Apart from a host of practical, management, and leadership skills, Sisekelo had a bird’s eye view of affluence and even had a chance to take part in the execution of a $1 million wedding!
A five star experience
I chose this particular hotel for my internship because it is a five star hotel and epitomises luxury. The Ritz-Carlton attracts the most affluent guests due to its class and sophistication. It is the second best hotel in the state of Florida, and the best in the town of Naples, Florida.
The knowledge that I gained from this experience is quite extensive. The Ritz-Carlton taught me how to deliver only the best service. The motto of The Ritz-Carlton is ‘we are ladies and gentlemen, serving ladies and gentlemen’ and I was taught to be a true gentleman. I even learned how to speak a bit of Spanish since some of my colleagues were from Cuba.”
So, what attracted this New Forest High School matriculant to the hospitality industry in the first place? A family that loves cooking and a mother and aunts who instilled a passion for food and a love for helping organise family celebrations such as birthday parties, Christmas and weddings!
Prepared for success as a future hotelier
Sisekelo believes that IHS played a huge role in preparing him to be able to work at such a prestigious resort…
The experience I had at the Ritz-Carlton was amazing! I learned so much in terms of managing hotels as I worked closely with the supervisors and food and beverage managers who were always willing to teach me. The amount of team work at this establishment is truly phenomenal.
My mindset and views on life changed drastically and I believe this experience will really help me become a successful hotelier in the future. I believe that this experience will really benefit my career as I have not only acquired more hospitality skills but also seen how important it is to stay competitive in the global market. The Ritz-Carlton has taught me some important leadership skills which I will apply in the future.”
Highlights of his stay included opportunities to share the experiences of a very diverse group of colleagues some of whom hailed from Peru, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Jamaica. The downside was being ‘Proudly South African’ and missing local foods such as boerewors, biltong, and mielie pap!
Then came a one month vacation in the USA…
I went to the Miami South Beach, where I took a peaceful stroll along the promenade and then to Texas where I visited family. Last but not least, I went to the “Big Apple”, New York City, where I spent 24 hours walking the streets astonished by the sky scrapers and city lights. I went to Queens, the Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan, and the luminous Time Square. I was in an empire state of mind as I had turned my dreams into a reality!”
The good thing is that these were not all his dreams.
My professional dream is to become a general manager of a leading hotel chain/brand and, after that, to even open up my own hospitality business. I really believe I will achieve my dreams. While pursuing my dreams I plan to travel, as this broadens the way I view life and helps me to gain new ideas that I can use to the full in the workplace.”
We’re so proud of Sisekelo and can’t wait to see where this opportunity takes him in his hotel/hospitality career!