Life at BHMS
The two dates in the BHMS calendar that really showcase why it is such a joy to be working in hospitality and business education are those when our graduations take place. These celebrations, with their traditional gowns, pomp and ceremony form a perfect backdrop to the sense of pride, accomplishment and optimism that unites those in attendance. This, however, is the final chapter in each students’ journey. So where does it all begin?
Each year, Switzerland welcomes approximately 10,000 international students committed to pursuing a degree in hospitality management. For many, this involves leaving their families and flying halfway around the world. Trepidation and anticipation will govern this experience at first.
The First Steps
As for all new students, making those all-important first friends, understanding the program requirements and expectations and being immersed in a new environment and culture all need to be navigated within a fairly short time. Additionally, hospitality freshmen are confronted with requirements to wear business dress and professional uniforms, meet personal branding and grooming standards as their studies will comprise of both vocational skill training and applied management learning as they move through the program.
The global reputation of Swiss hospitality education excellence is well documented and undoubtedly intertwined with the Swiss culture which focuses on precision, attention to detail and high quality. For many new students, emulating these qualities is an easy transition. However, for those who find it a little harder, the first semester of studies provides a safe and supportive environment in which to understand their importance.
Six months later, just as students become fully settled and feel comfortable with the academic requirements and operational standards, we challenge them to move out of their comfort zone and take on to an internship. This is an opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned, and require them to integrate into a new environment. They can then show their value as a paid member of a team.
Second Year and Beyond
When returning for their second year of studies, the student transformation process is evident. They are confident, independent and keen to continue the learning journey, building on the experience they have gained.
In their final year of studies, students undertake a range of Capstone and management modules. They also undertake a final placement to graduate. These tend to be geographically diverse as the soon-to-be graduates take this last opportunity to gain further exposure in different areas of interest, often across a range of different continents and countries. The graduation of a group of young adults who have lived studied and supported each other over 3 years is, therefore, a milestone reunion and a confirmation of friendships and networks that will accompany them in their transition into aspiring managers and young entrepreneurs.
The transformation is complete. As my esteemed father was often fond of telling me in my own teenage years. ‘A degree is a passport to a future of opportunities’… and never before has there been quite such bountiful opportunities for hospitality graduates the world over.
About the Author
Heather Robinson is the Academic Dean at the B.H.M.S. Business Hotel & Management School in Lucerne. She has enjoyed more than 20 years’ experience in hospitality education, while living and working in over 11 countries.
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