A few of the perks of the MBA with a Concentration in Hospitality Management are the internships offered throughout and following the program and the internship placement assistance provided by Vatel’s Career and Employability office. Vatel USA’s Program Director, Mrs. Nathalie Plaire-Virovac sat down with a current student, Louis, who shared his internship interview experience.
Interview conducted by Nathalie Plaire-Virovac
Relations to hotels for career development at Vatel USA
The Beverly Hills Hotel, affectionately known as the 'Pink Palace,' is famous for its legendary service and legendary guests. Over the last century, the hotel has been the host of countless Hollywood stars and celebrities. From Marilyn Monroe, to Frank Sinatra, John F. Kennedy, Elton John, John Lennon, Charlize Theron or Brad Pitt, so many stars, royalties and politicians have enjoyed the timeless glamour of this incredibly beautiful property.
Louis’ educational background started with a 3-year bachelor’s degree in hotel management at Vatel Lyon from 2017 to 2020, in France. This is where he learned the foundation of the hospitality management skills that he would need to start a successful career.
Two years later, in January 2021, Louis enrolled in an MBA with Vatel San Diego at Alliant International University, in California. In line with Vatel’s signature education, the program allows for a large part of practical training during the academic year, followed by a one-year full time practical training under the OPT work provision of the F-1 visa.
As part of his education, Louis already completed internships in 5-star properties such as the Kube Hotel in Saint Tropez France. In 2019, he was hired as Quality Manager Intern for Cheval Blanc Hotel in St Barth, one of the most exquisite and high-end hotel brands, and part of the LVMH Group.
Students in the MBA program have the opportunity to work part-time while they study through the CPT provision of the F-1 student visa. In San Diego, Louis started a part-time position as Floor Manager at a restaurant newly opened by a fellow Vatel Graduate, Crème de la Crepe. In the meantime, Louis has started the search and interview process for his next year’s full-time internship.
Based on his education and professional background, Louis felt confident to apply for the Ultimate Leader Program at the Beverly Hills Hotel, which is part of the Dorchester Collection, a portfolio of the world's foremost luxury hotels in Europe and the USA. Over a period of 12 to 24 months this selective management training program allows high achiever young graduates to rotate between different departments and gain experience in a supervisor role toward leadership. This is also an opportunity to build a successful career within the Dorchester Collection.
Nathalie Plaire-Virovac: Louis, this is exciting, you are applying to one of the most iconic hotels in Los Angeles. How does it feel?
Louis: It is really a dream come true. The Beverly Hills Hotel is so beautiful and filled with so much history from the Hollywood glamour era.
N P-V: Can you tell us who you met to interview for this position?
Louis: I met with the 3 highest management-level executives of the hotel including the General Manager. I really felt honored and valued. It never happened to me back in France.
N P-V: Was it intimidating to talk to the higher management of the hotel?
Louis: It was not actually, on the contrary. It was like a discussion between professionals and I felt that my profile was greatly appreciated. It gave me confidence to express myself and talk about my previous experiences in a very professional manner. I came out of the interview feeling better than ever.
N P-V: How did the interview go? What kind of questions were asked?
Louis: Most questions were about my personality, my passion for the hospitality industry and my potential as a future leader.
N P-V: Are you used to this type of question?
Louis: Not really, I have to say. During previous interviews in Europe I rather felt like the person interviewing me was trying to trick me to show me that the position was not for me. This time it was a totally different experience.
N P-V: During the first months of your current MBA program you had a class to help you prepare for interviews. Was it helpful?
Louis: Yes, it was. Especially the Gallup Strength Assessment test that we did in class. This is a kind of personality test often used in large companies. It reveals the 5 preeminent strengths of your personality. Sometimes it reveals qualities that you are not even aware of. During the interview, I was asked about my Gallup strengths assessment and I was glad to answer.
N P-V: How did you prepare for this important interview?
Louis: I studied the hotel, its history, the different outlets and rooms, most importantly the clientele and the management style. In the Career Development class, we also worked on our resumes and presentations.
N P-V: Vatel USA is able to offer many training opportunities with some of the most beautiful and aclaimed hotels in the country, why did you choose to apply at the Beverly Hills Hotel for your 12-month OPT work experience?
Louis: In addition to my admiration for this iconic hotel, my motivation is linked to my former manager and mentor at Cheval Blanc St Barth who used to work at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Networking and relations are really key in this industry.
N P-V: You applied for the Ultimate Leader Program (ULP) at the Beverly Hills Hotel what are your expectations for this exclusive training program?
Louis: Being part of the team at the Beverly Hills Hotel is in itself an amazing opportunity, a dream come true. Being selected for the ULP of The Dorchester Collection means that I can access a superior level of training with special attention to the highest standards of luxury service and most importantly, developing my leadership skills. In addition, this special training will give me a privileged access to managerial positions after my master with Vatel USA.
N P-V: Thank you for sharing your experience Louis, and good luck!
“Vatel made me more open-minded and allowed me to meet people who contributed to making me who I am today.”
Aurélie Ponce - Operations manager for the Cheval Blanc Paris Hotel / 2006 Alumnus
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