Learning and Thriving in a Luxury Hotel through OIWSP


From overcoming language barriers to adding value to their roles, Jennelle and Jun Jie recount their OIWSP experience at a luxury hotel in Hong Kong. 

Jennelle and Jun Jie Rosewood Hotel

Jennelle (left) and Jun Jie were exposed to working in various departments at Rosewood Hotel, Hong Kong. (Photo: Jennelle and Jun Jie)

The allure of working in a foreign land, experiencing a new culture and exploring unfamiliar sights on her days off attracted Jennelle Ng, a Year 3 Hospitality Business student, to apply for the Overseas Integrated Work Study Programme (OIWSP). “I thought being a tourist while working overseas would be an interesting experience,” Jennelle said. When the chance materialised in the form of an OIWSP placement at the prestigious Rosewood Hotel in Hong Kong, she jumped at it. 

It was a similar case for Lee Jun Jie, another Year 3 Hospitality Business student who did an OIWSP placement at the same hotel. “I wanted to get a taste of independent living and immerse myself in the cultural experience of working overseas,” Jun Jie said. Both Jennelle and Jun Jie embarked on their eight-month OIWSP at Rosewood Hotel, Hong Kong in May 2023. Jennelle was assigned to the hotel’s Residences wing, which offers apartments and luxury suites catering to guests with extended stays. During her stint at the hotel, she had the opportunity to work in three departments – Bell Services, Food & Beverage, and Guest Services. “Some of my responsibilities include making reservations for the guests and liaising with them on their preferences regarding their deliveries,” Jennelle shared.  

Meanwhile, Jun Jie was assigned to the hotel wing, where he gained exposure to the workings of Bell Services and Concierge. “I handled a wide range of enquiries such as managing limousine requests, answering email queries from guests, and providing recommendations for places to visit,” shared Jun Jie. 

Navigating Language Barriers

Jennelle_Night Out with colleagues

Jennelle (extreme left) having a night out with her colleagues. (Photo: Jennelle Ng)

The first few months of Jennelle and Jun Jie’s OIWSP experience were challenging as they were not fully fluent in Cantonese. “Before the work attachment, I could only understand basic Cantonese. Hence, it was a steep learning curve when it came to communication-related tasks. For example, I had to text some guests in traditional Chinese and speak in Cantonese to make reservations with external businesses such as spas and restaurants for our guests,” Jennelle shared. 

Like Jennelle, Jun Jie initially faced the challenge of navigating his frontline services role without prior knowledge of Cantonese. Nevertheless, through their immersive work experiences, both students adeptly learned the language. “I went from having zero knowledge of Cantonese to being able to converse in the language,” Jun Jie shared. 

Part of Jennelle’s apprehension before starting her internship was facing the language barrier with her colleagues. As it turned out, her colleagues hailed from around the world, and she could converse in English and Mandarin with many of her colleagues and guests. “I had Thai, French, and Filipino colleagues. It was a melting pot of cultures at the workplace,” Jennelle said. She also adapted quickly to the job as the hotel uses the Opera system to manage the frontline operations, a software she’s familiar with, as she had learned it in one of her modules. 

Leveraging Their Strengths

JunJie_Lunch with colleagues

Jun Jie (second from left) having lunch with his team members. (Photo: Lee Jun Jie) 

While Jun Jie faced challenges in Cantonese, he leveraged his strength in the English language to add value to his role and responsibilities at Rosewood Hotel. Observing that most of the email queries from hotel guests were in English, and majority of his colleagues were not proficient in the language, Jun Jie proactively took on the responsibility of responding to the emails. 

Jennelle harnessed her event management and organisational skills to set up a system to facilitate tracking of deliveries collected for the hotel’s residents. “The Residences wing consists of 186 apartments and suites, and it was necessary to account for all our residents’ deliveries. Since there wasn’t an established system in place, I took the initiative to assist in setting it up,” Jennelle shared. 

The communication and soft skills taught in the Career and Professional Development (CPD) module came in handy for Jennelle as she had to communicate with her guests professionally, yet maintain warmth and friendliness in her communication. “As a service staff, I had my share of unpleasant experiences. I’ve learned not to take rude remarks personally and keep my responses professional,” Jennelle shared. Jennelle had evidently honed the skill of professional interpersonal communications, as she cultivated warm and cordial relationships with both her colleagues and long-term residents during her stint at Rosewood Hotel. 

Jennelle and Jun Jie_Leisure

Outside of their working hours, both Jennelle and Jun Jie had the opportunity to explore the city. (Photo: Jennelle and Jun Jie) 

The overseas work attachment was not only an immersive experience; it also cemented Jennelle and Jun Jie’s decisions to pursue a career in the hospitality industry upon graduation. After being exposed to various aspects of hotel operations within a luxury hotel, Jun Jie has decided to pursue revenue management within the hospitality sector, while Jennelle aims for a role in sales in the hospitality catering sector. 

“I would encourage all students to try for an overseas internship if possible. Looking back, eight months seemed like a long time to set aside my commitments and priorities,” Jennelle said. “However, it was such an enriching and invaluable experience; I have no regrets going for it.” 

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