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How To Get the Most Out of Your First Internship

As part of your hospitality bachelor degree, you are probably required to complete at least one short work placement, aka an internship.

An internship is a standard requirement for a Bachelor in Hospitality Management because, with all the theoretical knowledge in the world, work experience allows you to actually put it to practice.

Experience and education in the hospitality industry

Because you have chosen to take the path of education, you will have an advantage over those that do not have a formal education, but it will only benefit you if you use it.

In the hospitality industry, work experience is everything.

Experience is more valuable than education and most people that work in hotels, restaurants, and other sectors of the industry do not have a bachelor degree.

But don’t get me wrong, just having “some” work experience will not give you a successful career.

You need to use your internship to your advantage in the long run and get the most out of it.

You need to treat your internships as valuable learning opportunities.

Gain insight into yourself and the industry to develop a professional edge that will make you an attractive candidate.

Things you should do during your first internship:

Here are four things I think you should definitely do during your first internship to get ahead of your classmates and set your career on the right path forward. In no particular order, just as I thought of them.

Keep a diary

Yes, keep a diary and write in it after each and every one of your shifts. Write about everything and anything that happened that day. Was it a good or a bad day? Reflect on your progress so far and note the things you want to develop and focus on next.

I am not going to go into detail about the benefits of journaling but googling for “benefits of journaling” just got me almost 9 million results. I definitely recommend this for your internship.

Set goals

Set goals that you aim to achieve by the end of your internship and work towards them at each shift.

Reflect on these goals regularly in your diary. Make sure that you regularly review these goals and keep them on top of your mind, so you don’t become complacent.

Sharing your goals with your manager at the beginning of your internship is a good way to set expectations and check that they are realistic. Your manager might even help you set better goals and push you to think bigger. (If you’re lucky)


You are not reading this because you want to be a waiter for the rest of your life, you are reading this because you want to have a successful career and grow in your chosen field.

Successful people don’t wait for things to happen to them, they make things happen. Successful people are well-read in their field and have a good grasp of management and leadership techniques.

You need to know everything about your field. Read industry news and subscribe to magazines that you can access.

Don’t focus just on the content relevant to your niche, think bigger and read leadership and business tips from across the board.

Be proactive

Do not expect the world to show up to you, you need to show up to the world.

If you need help finding an internship, reach out to a few of your professors and student advisors. Do extensive research on the areas you need help with.

If you want to leave your internship with a good recommendation and maybe even a job offer, put yourself forward to tasks and ask your manager for feedback regularly. It will show a desire to learn and develop, be prepared for negative feedback too.

Why it is important to keep notes and reflect during your first internship

Chances are, you probably don’t want to keep a diary. It might even seem silly to you, to write down thoughts and feelings to a piece of paper (physical or digital).

I was very sceptical when I started keeping a diary during my first internship, but I kept at it after every shift, even if it was as basic as “Just had another good day, nothing special happened today”. I knew it would benefit me down the line.

Once I finished my internship and had to write a report of my experience for school, I reaped the benefits of keeping the diary.

You will not forget the small things

Memory works in funny ways, you easily forget trivial things and distribute your experiences and memories into boxes. With time, you will only remember those that either had the most impact or were somehow highlighted.

What you will not remember are the small thoughts and questions you had throughout your internship and the feelings you felt during those times.