Successful cooperation

Exchange students at GCH

Hospitality industry in Germany is thriving and companies are always on the lookout for potential, enthusiastic employees. GCH Hotel Group is not an exception – every year the hotel management company offers various intern positions for foreign students around the Berlin area, in several hotels and at the company headquarters. Students get hands-on work experience in their own field as well as a great chance to familiarize themselves with one of the most vibrant, lively capitals of Europe.

The future of work: All-embracing internship opportunities

 “An internship abroad is a highly rewarding and memorable experience for young students”, states Juha Tolvanen, Managing Director of GCH Hotels GmbH. Juha speaks from his personal experience – he himself left Finland for a hospitality internship in Germany and has since worked his way up to the top management. Thus, it is only natural that he bears the main responsibility for the unique internship program between GCH and Finnish learning institutions. As a cornerstone of the program, his role is to connect the right hotels with the right, motivated candidates.

The cooperation between GCH Hotel Group and Finnish hospitality students dates back all the way to 2009, when the first interns from Kuopio arrived in Berlin to gain more insight into the tourism business. They helped Wyndham Berlin Excelsior Hotel to prepare for the International Green Week, the world’s biggest food, agriculture and gardening exhibition. Since those early days, the internship program has been nothing but successful: it has grown over the years to include several universities around Finland. One of the main reasons for the success is undoubtedly the exceptional support/assistance the company offers: besides the paid, three-month internship position in Europe's hottest location, GCH Hotel Group also provides students (free) accommodation in its hotels.  It is self-evident why interning in a large and prosperous company like GCH is seen as an attractive opportunity, and in the future Juha plans on expanding the internship program not only further in Finland but also to other Nordic Countries.

Learning and teaching at GCH

An internship is a two-way exchange: it benefits both the student as well as the hotel. For many students an internship can be the first professional experience within hospitality, but the qualified and welcoming staff of GCH Hotel Group ensures a smooth landing in the company. “We have a very supportive working environment and people are always willing to help each other”, says Miina-Mari Liukkonen, Finnish tourism student who is completing her three-month internship in Wyndham Garden Potsdam Hotel this summer. Positive atmosphere at work place encourages students to contribute to the organization by presenting their own, fresh ideas and thus allows the hotel to consider its operations from a novel perspective.

For students the internship is primarily about learning, and that is why during their time at GCH they are introduced to diverse, interesting tasks. “Working in the reception, kitchen as well as in waiting service has really helped me to understand the bigger picture of how hotels operate”, Miina-Mari explains. Consequently, an internship can also work as a talent pipeline for the company: promising interns, who have already gotten to know the company from the inside, have a possibility to continue working at GCH after their graduation.

Bringing value to the future career

Due to rapid globalization, the hospitality industry has become more and more international and the direction seems to remain unchanged. Therefore, an internship abroad is an investment for the future and it has become extremely popular especially among students who wish to pursue a global career.  “Working few months in a foreign country is a perfect way to broaden your horizons, network and learn from different cultures”, Miina-Mari says.

“In Germany, employers in the field of hospitality often value previous work experience and personal know-how over a college diploma”, Juha points out. Also at GCH Hotel Group interns are given a lot of responsibility since day one and they get a real chance to observe the German working culture in practice. They are also able to improve their English and German skills – “in a country where personal customer service is highly emphasized, it is important to have knowledge of the local language”, Juha concludes.

Top-quality service under all conditions

Juha encourages students to do an internship abroad – and to take full advantage of the journey. Every hotel and restaurant have its own ways of working and combining the knowledge gained from different positions and cultures helps the employee to navigate in challenging situations. “The service oriented hotel industry in Central Europe is different from Finland, where businesses tend to focus more on automation these days”, ponders Juha. Skills developed along the way also make it easier to predict what the customers want, even before they realize it themselves. At GCH, we want to offer first-class service and exceed guests’ expectations on every level and in all areas. “Hospitality industry is extremely versatile and interesting – no two days are ever the same”, ends Juha. 

GCH from my perspective

I myself happen to be one of those lucky students who got the chance to work at GCH Hotel Group this summer. As a business student, I completed my internship at the company headquarters right in the heart of Berlin. I worked in the marketing department, where I was truly able to link the theories learned in the university to practice.  Writing this blog article was not only one of my final tasks here but also an excellent opportunity to reflect on what this summer actually taught me.

As I dived into the world of marketing without any previous practical experience, I acquired several job-specific skills such as managing our CMS-system, maintaining web sites and creating marketing plans for GCH hotels. However, the most important things l improved will benefit me for my future job. These transferable skills include organizing, prioritizing, researching and most of all – teamwork and communication skills. Almost every project requires special knowledge from different team members, which makes an efficient cooperation essential – and GCH gives you the right opportunities to understand the structures of a multinational company as well as the peculiarities of hospitality. Altogether, I feel that interning at GCH has been a truly enriching experience – from   an academic and professional perspective.

Editor: Sanni Seppänen