Aside from hiring employees, another way you can expand your company’s talent pool is by working with interns. Although an internship usually lasts anywhere from three months to one year, it can lead to an offer for a permanent position. Regardless of your business’ size, having a tailored hospitality internship program can save you time and effort. 

Read this article to find out why you should hire interns, how big hospitality players design their internship programs, and which guidelines to follow when hiring interns from abroad. Then, you’ll find a comprehensive 10-step guide to design your own hospitality internship program. Feel free to download and save it! 


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The Benefits of Hiring Interns in the Hospitality Industry

So, why should you hire an intern? Firstly, interns increase the company's workforce: they can support other employees in carrying out tasks that don't require a lot of expertise yet are essential for the day-to-day functioning of the company. In the hospitality industry e.g., front desk interns are perfectly capable of receiving calls and inquiries from customers. It is an important task yet easy enough for an intern to handle. This allows more seasoned employees to focus on other tasks. 

Another benefit of having an intern is that they can offer new ideas to the company. They see things with a fresh set of eyes. This means they might bring in strategies and solutions that people who are working in the company may not have thought of. Harnessing the power of social media for your hospitality business. e.g., is one area where interns can offer new and innovative uses. 

Interns can also be the ideal solution for the constant talent shortage, especially in the hospitality industry. To a certain degree, seasonal work can be covered by qualified interns. Since the number of employees needed for these types of jobs fluctuates depending on the time of the year, interns can help (partially) fill these roles. For example, a cruise ship will need more kitchen and dining staff during the summer, which is the usual peak travel season. It’s a win-win situation for both the company and the intern.  (1). 

There are several things to keep in mind, however. Interns are not meant for getting unpaid or underpaid labour. Interns should be paid a reasonable stipend, which is commensurate to the tasks they are expected to do.  Moreover, it’s not okay to make interns do menial tasks that don’t add to their CV, such as getting coffee, photocopying reports, or only washing dishes shouldn’t be a part of their responsibilities. On the other  hand, interns shouldn’t be treated as experts.  They don’t have enough knowledge and experience compared to regular employees, so time, effort and a mentor should be allotted to their development. Teaching them will add to their skills, and increase their chances of being hired. 


→ 🙂  Does your company conduct exit interviews when employees leave? Read this article to find out why exit interviews are a must! 


How Big Companies Organise and Execute Internship Programs 

Well-established companies normally have specifications in their advertisements when they’re looking for interns. They clearly state the tasks involved, the requirements for the job, the duration of the internship, and compensation and benefits for the intern. Let’s look at Marriott e.g., which has 7,600+ properties worldwide. Marriott offers a lot of internship opportunities in various departments, such as: F&B Service, Guest Relations, and Reservations. They are currently offering a six-month F&B Service internship in Koh Samui, Thailand. The intern will be tasked with greeting guests and answering menu questions, taking, preparing and serving food and drink orders, and cleaning work areas. Setting tables and preparing food trays is also part of the internship.  In addition to a monthly allowance, the intern will receive lodging benefits, accommodation, visa sponsorship, arrival support and the opportunity to be hired. 


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Internship Guidelines per Country

Each country has its own laws when it comes to accepting interns from abroad. Below, we’ve outlined the internship guidelines for you in France, Italy, Spain, and Saudi Arabia. 

  • In France, there is a difference in the requirements depending on  which country the intern is from, and if the internship duration is more or less than three months (1).  In 2021, interns in France had to be paid 3.90 euros per hour as per the law.  (2)
  • In Italy, non-EU students need to apply for the Italian Internship visa. If your prospective intern is not from an EU country but is already living in Italy with a valid residence permit, the same internship rules as an Italian citizen apply to them.
  • Internships in the UK are subject to different rules. If an intern is classified as a worker, they are eligible for the national minimum wage. (3)
  • For internships in Spain, foreign interns can apply for the Internship Visa. If they don’t meet the requirements, they can get a student visa.  (4)
  • For companies in Saudi Arabia, interns coming from abroad need to get a work permit or a residence visa.  (5)

Need to Recruit Interns?

When you are looking for an intern, you can: 

  1. Work with Hosco: As a hospitality network with more than 1.5 million members worldwide, Hosco can help you find your candidates faster and efficiently. Posting on our platform helps you reach top talent and pre-select candidates using the features of our platform. Moreover, our strategic alliance with more than 400 hospitality schools and associations brings young talent to the platform from the minute they start their higher education. Your job ads will be automatically posted onto multiple school sites with one click. We'll assist you in the planning and execution of your employer brand scheme with a perfect mix of online and offline actions to present your company and programs. Book your demo today! 

  2. Recruit them yourself:  If you know exactly what your company needs and have the manpower and knowledge to hire, go for this option. The problem arises when you don’t have the expertise or time to hire interns on your own. 

We suggest choosing an option that ties in with your company’s goals and needs. (6) 


The Prerequisites for a Great Hospitality Internship Program

Several factors can contribute to creating a good internship program for your company. One of these factors is dedicating time to the intern. At the start of the internship, you need to orient and familiarise the intern with how your company works, what is expected of them, and which other opportunities they might have within the company in the future, among other things. This will help the intern feel more confident in their role.

Another factor is having a mentor for your intern. This is key in an internship program. A senior or even a junior employee in the company should guide and help the intern. This person is someone the intern can turn to while learning the ins and outs of the company. The mentor must regularly offer valuable suggestions and feedback for the improvement of the intern. Having a mentor also helps make the intern feel more connected to the team.

A good internship program must contain well-defined goals and projects for the intern to work on. An intern is there to gain knowledge and improve their skills. Therefore, assigning the intern a minimum of one project that has a start, middle, and end is essential. This will give them a sense of ownership while working on the project, and the confidence to continue in a hospitality job once the project has been completed. (7)

Lastly, any company that wishes to implement an internship program should have adequate resources for it to be successful. These include financial resources, people dedicated to the program as well as supplies and materials that an intern might need to perform daily tasks  and projects that have been assigned.


How To Create Your Hospitality Internship Program in 10 steps 

Ready to get started?

Below are the first 5 steps for creating a quality hospitality internship program for your company:

1. Research

Determine why you want to offer internships. What will the benefits look like for you and 

the student? What does your company have to offer? Will you work only with hospitality schools, or will any student do? Will you offer internships to local students only or foreign students also? If you will offer internships to foreign students, bear in mind the extra cost this will entail, and remember to check for the latest visa requirements per country as well. 

2. Collaborate 

Ask your team members: which departments have a place for an intern, who can serve as a mentor to guide and advise the intern in the day-to-day operations, and which projects and tasks are available in the upcoming months. Do not assign tasks that will add no value to the intern’s experience. Remember to check how much time, resources, and budget your team will be able to dedicate to the intern. Check if an intern can rotate through and spend some time in each of the different departments. This will give them  a better understanding of how a particular company works. 

3. Plan

What will the guidance offered to interns look like, and who will monitor the student’s progress? Will you offer interns tasks based on ongoing/upcoming projects that will benefit the company or tasks based on the student’s learning goals? It’s best if the tasks benefit both the company and the intern.  Do the mentors identified within the company have the leadership skills, availability, and willingness to train and mentor a student? If yes, how many hours will be put in, and by whom? Map this out per department. 

4. Prepare

Determine how for long the internship will be offered, and at what educational level the intern must be. Identify the qualities the candidate must have and put it all together in an internship offer/advert. What should a good internship advert contain? Usually, you would need to include the list of tasks, the qualifications for the job, the start and end date, and the remuneration.  Including all this information will ensure that the right candidate  will be applying to your company. Have a look at this great internship advert by Accor hotels!

5. Document

Check with your legal team or legal advisor to prepare an internship agreement. Sometimes schools have one already, at other times companies draft one themselves. Make sure it covers the stipend, insurance, working hours, training, tasks, expectations, and outcomes. Some schools will ask that their students provide evidence of achieving learning goals at the end of the internship, so bear this in mind when designing tasks. Foreign students will also need a visa or sponsorship, and this must be outlined in the agreement as well as in the job advert to prevent confusion.


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We hope this guide comes in handy when creating a tailored hospitality internship program, and saves you time and effort.