About their first time working at the hotel, their difficulties, and their career plans, I talked to Xavi Monmany and Víctor Cuevas. They arrived from Terrassa, Barcelona, to Skopje at the end of May to do their internships in frames of the VET (Vocational Education and Training) program at Hotel Panoramika Design & Spa.
It was a sunny afternoon, almost 40 degrees on the thermometer. I arrived at the Hotel Panoramika Design & Spa a few minutes before the appointment with Xavi and Victor. The architecture and design of the hotel are modernistic what adds to the hotel’s luxurious feel. Everything blends seamlessly into the natural area of the beautiful mountain Vodno. Xavi and Victor came on time. We sat at the elegant veranda of a four-star hotel to talk about their summer internship in Skopje.
Xavi and Victor’s recipe for a happy day is a great team, a busy work schedule, and a good mind-set. A positive workplace does exist. However, the people who work together must create it. The atmosphere at the hotel seems to be that of a friendly one. “Our colleagues are the best – very kind, helpful and funny. When we are not busy, we can talk about anything. We also teach them Spanish, and it makes us laugh a lot. The people at the hotel are of different ages, and we enjoy working with all of them”, says Victor.
The interns have different shifts. Victor starts his workday at 9 am, Xavi at 2 pm. For 5 hours Monday-Friday, they help at the bar where they prepare drinks, at the restaurant where they provide a wait service, and at the reception desk where they welcome new guests. They do small jobs like table cleaning and coffee serving at the hotel’s veranda, but primarily they work inside. You can find Xavi at the reception desk most of the time. Victor is wherever he is needed, but mainly at the restaurant. He is always ready to stay some extra hours to help if his colleagues tackle the heavy workload. They work at the hotel for the first time and feel lucky to be here. They had a greater expectation before arrival regarding the number of responsibilities, but the four-star hotel in Macedonia will add glamor to their resumes. “Our degree in tourism wasn’t focused on hotels, so we didn’t get the proper knowledge before arriving here. I think that I learned more about work in the hotel from TV series than from school”, says Xavi. They wanted to apply for hotel jobs when they were in Spain. However, they were unlucky – coronavirus thwarted their plans, and their CVs were left unanswered. Some days are busy at work, sometimes they are not, but all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. The weekends for our interviewees are a time to relax and party, for exploring Macedonia or neighbouring countries.
What was the biggest challenge at the beginning of their hotel adventure in Skopje? Communication. The Macedonian language is entirely different from Spanish, and the Cyrillic alphabet is complicated for them. They couldn’t understand anything at the beginning. “We communicate with everyone in English, but I would like to know the Macedonian language to help more. I know some basics such as hello and thank you. My co-workers also taught me Macedonian numbers, but that is all I know”, says Victor. “I want to talk more to our guests. The problem is that they don’t want to speak English if they have other workers who speak Macedonian. I would also feel more obligated to learn Macedonian if I stayed here for one year. Unfortunately, our internship is short-term”, Xavi adds.
One of the essential features of a hotelier is the openness to work in many destinations worldwide. Xavi had a hard time deciding about his internship in Macedonia, but right now, he doesn’t want to go back home. He wants to travel more and explore other places. His dream destination is the USA. “Now, I know that it might be difficult at the beginning, but if you don’t risk anything, you risk more”, says Xavi. Victor plans to go to Switzerland when he finishes college to be a waiter there and what his next destination will be, who knows?
For Xavi and Victor, it is too early to decide if they want to work at the hotel for the following years. What is their career goal? Victor has two dreams that he wants to make come true. The first is becoming a voice actor, and the second is getting a job as a referee. Sports have always been a big part of his life, especially football. His brother is a football player, and his other brother is a referee. Victor is sure that with persistence and discipline, he can achieve the career success he wants. Xavi also has very ambitious plans. In a few years, we could see his name among people like Steven Spielberg, Christopher Nolan, or Xavier Dolan. He wants to become a movie director. It is costly to have a degree in film, but chasing your dreams can cost money. Plan B for Xavi is getting a job in tourism. He would love to travel and have a career that allows him to visit new places. He thinks that he could work as a flight attendant, travel agent, or hotelier.
What is the golden advice to give to someone who wants to start his or her career in hospitality? “The most important advice is to choose a career that suits your personality”, Victor says. The interns agree that you should rather be an extrovert if you’re going to work with people. It depends on the job, but working in hospitality can be pretty tough. You always have to smile and treat the clients with respect, even if it is not your good day. Friendliness might be exhausting, but you must always be kind.
The most important lessons learned from this conversation are matching your career choice with your personality type and not being afraid to try something new. Take a plunge! You will not regret it.