Two weeks after Magali Vincent completed her Advanced Studies in International Hotel Management diploma, she received an invitation to apply for a management position from the human resources manager at a Fairmont hotel, whom she had met during her studies. Her experience of landing a sought-after job in a highly competitive field is the norm – rather than the exception – for graduates of the Institut de tourisme et d’hôtellerie du Québec (ITHQ) in Montreal.
“Our goal is to train future leaders in international hotel management,” says Sylvie Carrière, student recruitment coordinator for ITHQ, which is known as Quebec’s leading hotel school and offers programs in tourism, hospitality and food service. “When our students work hard, we guarantee that they are going to be very much in demand.”
This bilingual hotel management program, which has been running for almost a decade, is designed to deliver a balance of knowledge, in-the-field-training and access to an extensive network of contacts at the world’s best hotels to enable graduates to make meaningful contributions to the hotel industry, says Ms. Carrière.
“The 26-month continuous university-level program has two paid internship components at renowned Canadian and international hotels, where students typically complete over 675 hours – and often 900 hours – of work,” she says. “It is a very practical program, and students gain lots of hands-on experience and contacts.”
Among the approaches that ensure student success is personalized coaching on the best steps for completing the program, Ms. Carrière explains. “For hotel managers to thrive, they need soft skills like communications and dealing with people. They also need a solid understanding of finances, regulations and the latest tools, such as social media and online booking, for selling rooms.”
Students learn with international instructors and guest speakers and are part of an international cohort (where half the students come from outside Canada, such as France, Africa or the U.S.). They also have opportunities to participate in international competitions and placements.
The competencies students come away with include fluency in French and English, and confidence in working in different areas of responsibility and different cultural settings, says Ms. Carrière. “Students gain a good understanding of various cultures and clientele and how to best serve them. They also see different types of hotels and what is going on around the world.”
The international focus appeals to today’s young people, who value experiences over possessions, she adds. And this appetite for different cultural experiences serves them well in a job market that is increasingly globalized and competitive.
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