Two hotel and restaurant management (HRM) students from Mapúa Institute of Technology who signed up for the Institute’s international on-the-job training (OJT) program  recently completed their internships in a prestigious hotel in Hawai’i in the United States.

Normen Kyle Kahulugan and Nathaniel Joshua Catipon worked as interns at the Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas where they experienced first-hand working in a first-class hotel. Both students applied for internships at Ka’anapali after the partnership between Mapúa and University of Hawai’i Maui College (UHMC) was formalized in 2012. Ka’anapali is UHMC’s partner hotel.

The partnership covers short-term exchange of students for a three to six-month training program, which includes two preparatory courses on the Hawaiian culture and an international OJT.

It also covers the long-term exchange of students for academic degree programs in business, hospitality, and tourism. Exchange of professionals and executives as visiting lecturers, speakers in joint professional seminars and conferences, or consultants for academic and training projects may also be made possible through this partnership.

Both Kahulugan and Catipon underwent rigid screening process conducted by representatives of UHMC and recruitment officials of its partner hotel before they were accepted as trainees.

Kyle, now a graduating student, considers his training in Hawaii a privilege and a blessing.

“It came as a surprise because I never expected to be chosen as one of the interns. I was a sophomore then and I just wanted to try it,” Kyle said. “It was a great learning experience and it provided me great exposure.”

In three and a half months of immersion, he worked alongside the hotel’s friendly associates and topnotch chefs and managers. He was first assigned to the Foods and Beverages Department where he shadowed the sous-chef and learned the techniques and strategies in planning and organizing events.

One of the highlights of his three-month-long internship was when he assisted the executive chef in preparing the food and operational items, as well as the recipe template. For an aspiring chef like him, he said it was a privilege to be working with a professional and world-class chef.

Working in different departments and performing different roles gained him more skills and abilities, honing further the trainings he received at Mapúa. According to Kyle, he was able to practice the skills and knowledge he learned at the Institute, especially in terms of working alongside multicultural team in a foreign environment.

“It helped me connect with the hotel’s guests, as well as with other hotel associates. It aided me to have good working relationship with different kinds of people from different cultures,” said Kyle.

Mapúa has sent more than 50 undergraduates since it boost its international OJT program. It has partnered with universities and institutions that share the same objective of providing world-class education and global standard trainings to students.

Engr. Rosette Eira E. Camus, director of Mapúa’s Center for Career Services, is confident that the success of the international OJT program will continue in the next 10 years or so.

“Mapúa will most definitely continue to move forward to raise the quality of education no less than international standards,” she said.

The international OJT aims to expose the students to different cultures and global experiences for them to be professionally ready in the future. This is in line with Mapúa’s goal to produce and graduate competent students who can meet the global demands.

“Program such as this set Mapúa’s mark in the international arena of academic institutions, a proof that we stand by our mission to provide students with highly relevant professional and advanced education in preparation for global practice,” Engr. Camus said.

The partnership between Mapúa and UHMC aims to promote advancement of international understanding, strengthening of cultural ties, and improving the educational and professional training programs of the two academic institutions. It is open to interested and qualified second and third year HRM students.