The Most Common Mistakes Interns Make and How to Avoid Them with Mirna El Gemayel, Talents Partners and Alumni Development Manager at École Ducasse 

by | CAREER GUIDANCE, Career Paths, Internships, Job Hunting, Top 4

Globally, travel demand is at its highest yet since before the pandemic, which is great news for the hospitality industry and for those who seek to join it. Job openings are going up, but so are the standards of performance expected of hospitality employees, which means jobseekers must invest in their training and education as much as possible. And an internship, particularly an international internship, can give you a big leg up in this competitive market.

A hospitality internship is for many their first exposure to a professional hospitality setup of any kind. Students can secure internships by applying on their own, but more typically, their school’s career centre will connect them with institutes that offer hospitality internships of varying lengths and career concentrations. The career centre is not only a placement cell, but also a training facility where counsellors guide students on when to apply for internships, what factors to prioritise when choosing one, how to train/study for the best internships, and so on. 

The hospitality internship is an exciting experience, but one that can also make students nervous and thus prone to mistakes. In this article, Mirna El Gemayel, Talents Partners and Alumni Development Manager at École Ducasse, shares her tips on how interns can make a good impression, avoid common mistakes, and get all they can out of the internship experience.

What are some of the interns' most common mistakes during their hospitality internships?

Interns often underestimate the importance of soft skills like communication, and tend to focus on honing and showcasing their hard skills only. Whereas in fact, communication is one of the most critical aspects of your first internship. 


How can interns effectively manage their time and prioritise tasks to avoid feeling overwhelmed or falling behind?

We strongly encourage students to prioritise their efforts smartly during an internship. During the first few days and weeks, write down every instruction you are given. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or to ask for help whenever you feel overwhelmed. We always advise our interns to maintain a healthy lifestyle, with enough sleep and nutritious food. Listen to your mind and body, and maintain an open line of communication with your tutors. You should also build a rapport with your class representatives and career department representatives so you have a support system in case you need any help. 


What are some common mistakes interns make when working in teams, and how can they improve their teamwork skills? 

Common mistakes we see among interns include a failure to take initiative, difficulty adapting to the fast-paced nature of a hospitality workplace, and a failure to seek feedback. Often, this is simply the result of shyness or a lack of maturity. We also see students setting higher goals than they can realistically achieve. 

To combat this, we encourage students to build their confidence, and we believe that trust is vital to building confidence. Having a strong bond with your tutor and fellow team members is key to creating this trust, and at École Ducasse, we prioritise matching students with the tutors and teams who are most aligned with their individual goals and needs. This will create an environment where students feel like they can take initiative. 


How can interns ensure that they are effectively managing their own professional development and taking advantage of learning opportunities?

It’s important for interns to have a clear career goal - if they’re placed in an internship that meets their goal, they will naturally be motivated to show up. We advise our interns to find a connection with a chef, an ideology, or a culinary trend when choosing their internship. The ability to anticipate situations is key in any workplace, as is the ability to create and implement contingency plans in case things don’t work out. Punctuality and dedication are qualities we always look for, as well as motivation and curiosity. Humility is vital too.  

At École Ducasse, interns work with trained chefs who impart not just culinary skills but also their real-world experience of workplace environments. We also organise meetings with alumnus who can give them a perspective on life after École Ducasse, and how to make the most of their education and internship now for success later. In addition, we regularly organise career fairs on campus. 


How can interns demonstrate their commitment and dedication to their internship, and what should they avoid doing that may give the impression of lack of professionalism?

The challenge, often, with young talent is to make them realise the importance of their professional image and its impact on their career. School teaching is often just a theoretical business for them - which means that when they face a challenging real-life situation, they are overwhelmed and unable to analyse the situation and make the necessary decisions. Thus, they need to be accompanied at every step of their education journey. The goal isn’t to avoid mistakes altogether - whether small or big, mistakes are part of the learning process. The goal is to help them develop the right tools and mindset to emerge the winner in any crisis. 

We encourage our students to build a personalised career plan according to their interests and personal values at École Ducasse. Our role is to create a safe space for introspection, equip students with the tools to refine their career plan, and encourage curiosity and flexible thinking so that they can adjust their paths as necessary. We provide an environment of diversity, trust, freedom and courage of “trial and error” strategy.


About École Ducasse

École Ducasse has long been one of the standbys of the French culinary world. With a curriculum inspired by the ethos of legendary chef Alain Ducasse, the institute offers world-class bachelor’s degrees, diploma programmes, and short-term “essentials” programmes for those seeking to delve into the world of French baking, pastry making, chocolate making, and culinary arts. Students learn at the sprawling Paris campus as well as the Gurugram campus that was recently set up in partnership with the Indian School of Hospitality.



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