Fast Track USA is an initiative dedicated to bridging the gap between aspiring hospitality professionals and respected establishments in the United States. In this insightful interview, we chat with Sarah Shively from the Hyatt Regency in St. Louis, Missouri, exploring the relationship between the J-1 Visa program and the luxury hospitality industry.
Discover how Hyatt's commitment to diversity and learning shapes its approach to hosting international interns and trainees. Sarah shares her experiences on the program's impact, the qualities they seek in candidates, and the enriching opportunities available. Join us for a glimpse into how Fast Track USA is shaping the future of hospitality careers.
For more information about Fast Track, head over to the program’s homepage to find out everything you need to know to take the first steps towards your once in a lifetime training experience abroad.
How does the J-1 Visa program align with your company’s values and mission?
At Hyatt, we care for people so they can be their best and we pride ourselves on that culture of care. Our J-1’s from year to year align amazingly with that culture as they bring their own cultures of hospitality into their day-to-day work and teach us all new ways of caring for our colleagues.
What do you look for in a J-1 Visa candidate when recruiting interns and trainees?
Personality, English language skills (communicating and comprehending), and we also take into account any prior experience they have in the industry.
How do J-1 participants contribute to the diversity and culture within your workplace?
They contribute greatly! Our existing staff, new hires, and guests that come through when our interns are on site always enjoy meeting them and learning from them just as they are learning from us. We are so fortunate to have such an array of culture at our property between interns and existing staff.
How does the experience at your company prepare J-1 participants for future roles in the luxury hospitality industry?
When J-1’s leave the Hyatt, they have received a well-rounded experience in their emphasis area and beyond. They get to experience the hustle and bustle of a full service convention hotel where they encounter banquets, food outlets, rooms, housekeeping and so much more. With the ebbs and flows of the hospitality industry, our interns are also able to assist in other areas of the hotel to enrich their experience even further.
What kind of training and development opportunities does your company provide to J-1 participants?
F&B J-1’s get to experience every position in every outlet within the hotel in addition to banquets! Schedules depending, they also have opportunities to pick up shifts in other areas of the hotel as well.
Rooms J-1’s get to experience the flow of a full service front office experience from being a front facing desk agent, to learning the phones, to assisting in rooms supervision and inspections. Schedules depending, they also have opportunities to pick up shifts in other areas of the hotel as well.
How does your company facilitate the integration of J-1 visa holders into the team and the wider community?
Our interns begin their time with our HR team who walks them step by step through their new hire paperwork, and what they need to do to get their socials, bank accounts, apartments and anything else they need.
They are then introduced to the building, their managers and their team. Our J-1’s are also put through new hire orientation with all of our new hires from that month where they get to mingle with their peers in all departments.
Could you share a success story of a J-1 participant who made a significant impact during their time with your company?
It is hard to pick just one, but this year we have a young man at our front desk who has just been a complete rockstar. He has become such a pillar at our desk–colleagues and guests alike adore him. His name is mentioned consistently in guest surveys, he is one of our top upsell and reward program agents and he always has a smile on his face. He has truly made Hyatt his home and we are so happy he was placed here with us in St. Louis.
What feedback have you received from J-1 participants about their experience with your company?
We have always received positive feedback from our J-1’s. Many of them wish to stay and we wish we could keep them all as they truly become family. Upon their departure, we provide them with their certificate of completion, letter of verification of employment and anything else they need to take with them for future work or schooling.
Is there anything else you'd like to share with European hospitality students or professionals considering the J-1 Visa program?
If they have the opportunity to participate, we 100% recommend that they do. They will obtain invaluable skills, connections and relationships that they will take with them for the rest of their lives. We can’t say thank you enough to all of our J-1 interns that we have hosted and we look forward to the next season.
Want to add international experience to your CV early in your career? Fast Track USA makes it easy to find exclusive training placements abroad and obtain the visa you need to get there. Visit the Fast Track homepage today to apply for your dream internship overseas!