There are two huge assumptions revolving around Hospitality students at VinUni: firstly, their end goals will be the cool, fancy General Manager position in an equivalently fancy hotel, and secondly, in the College of Business and Management, they are the ones who do not need to rush an internship position when summer comes, as the opportunities are readily available.
In fact, many of the students I know dropped out of the sound-nice General Manager desire, whereas many seek to discover themselves outside of the internship program offered by the College. However, the experiences and impacts of such programs remain, leaving many Hospitality students with memorable and transformative experiences.
This is the third time I came back to Nha Trang as a summer intern. Landed at the Cam Ranh international airport, I am no longer in the mood of a tourist. The stunning beaches, the pristine sun-drenched natural scenery, and the continuing mountain ranges, all appear to be so familiar. I will be here for another two months, abs tight, back straight, I am now ready for a summer in the office.
Well, I guess so.
Just like how memories are strengthened thanks to the repetitive connection of the neurons, my connection with the people of Nha Trang is reinforced each time coming back. And yes, “it’s the people that make a home, not the place”.
Arriving at the lobby of the hotel and resort complex where I will work, I saw a charming woman who was coordinating the guest groups to check in. I started to approach the reception desks and stood behind her, calmly observing from the back trying to not disturb the hectic work flows.
“Oliver!” - she exclaimed. “When did you arrive? Are you about to have another summer here?” - she excitedly asked.
It is Ms. Thi - the Front Office Manager of the centered lobby, who I worked with last summer. That soft Southern accent and the positive energy of hers remind me of the memories a year ago: the long-hour meetings when we struggled to prepare for grand events, the over-time office days, the haunting stress under time pressure, and the burst of joy when missions were well accomplished.
“You seem to have gained weight!” - She laughed, and started to humorously comment on how I changed after roughly a year.
“I gain weight each time I come back to Nha Trang. Last year was the same. It seems like I suit this land. Haha.” - I replied, and we chatted for another few minutes about the peak summer seasons when the occupancy always exceeds manpower standards and every department struggles to satisfy the service demand with limited labor sources.
Ms. Thi is just one of the people that I talked to along the way. Entering the resort, I met many other senior colleagues and peers who I worked with last summer. The ambiance is different this time, the resort feels like another place to come back to, where I get greeted by the people, and stories start to flash back and flood in.
For any tourist places in Nha Trang that you can find on Google, I have been there, some places even twice or multiple times. Even the corners at the city center where tourists often hectically load in: the night market, the signature Agarwood tower, the Ponagar Cham tower, popular beaches along Tran Phu Street, and tourist “must-go” dining hubs, I can now easily guide the “real” tourists from the perspective of a “real” local-to-be, with descriptive introduction and detailed instruction on how to get there.
Not a tourist, I seek something unconventional. I decided to explore places where only locals will be there, and the experience went beyond my expectation.
It was a weekend when the sun spread all over the land. We rented a motorbike, two helmets and equipped an adventurous mind ready for the backpacking trip to an untouched, pristine waterfall that is 100km from the city center. Escaping from the highways of the city, we passed through the rough stone road of the countryside and multiple bridges over the streams to approach Ta Gu waterfall in Khanh Son district.
By walking up the stone stairs to the fall, we started to feel the strong flow of water through the roar of Ta Gu. The path up there is slippery, and it does not appear to be prepared for any timid tourists who are weak in endurance and strength. No protective gears, continuously jumping over the fast-flowing streams underfoot, we reached the waterfall.
Majestic, splendid, and picturesque as it is, Ta Gu stands along the rich flora surrounded. We met a few local people there, who were lying on the stones looking at the sky, swimming, and jumping into the water. We joined them to dive in the water and explored every corner of the areas around the fall, nestled by the cliffs to observe the stunning nature. The experience was fun, and we did truly feel inclusive to the local community.
All in all, I would say the internship experience has been one of a kind, in a way that it gives me chances to connect with a destination on a deeper level and be able to call it another place to come back to. However, every connection requires hardship and challenges to be reinforced and strengthened over time. During the three summers, I have experienced ups and downs, joy, sorrow, and shallowness. There are days that I feel lost and empty, but those days fuel my inner power to move forward.
Being able to leave a few personal marks and live like a local truly upgrades my internship experiences. Nha Trang just feels like another home.
Occupancy (OCC): a measure of how busy the hotel is, calculated as the percentage of the in-house occupied room over the total available room of a hotel. This is one of the most critical indexes that hoteliers rely on to modify their daily operations.
Manpower standard: the labor resource planned for the forecasted occupancy of a hotel. In other words, the manpower standard indicates the approved number of employees allowed for daily operation.
Sign in or become a Sincerely, VinUnians member to join the conversation.
Just enter your email below to get a log in link.