Written by J-1 Intern and CAP Ambassador Scholar: Aoife McGinley

Back home one month today and it feels like I have never left. It has been ‘full steam ahead’ into my final year of my degree in Hospitality Management! Having had a little time to reflect on a year in the US, there is no doubt that it has been the best year of my life thus far, and to think that I actually doubted going at all.

This time last year I was starting my first week in Club at Ibis, in West Palm Beach Florida. I’m thanking my lucky stars that it was last year and not this, with the horrendous weather of Hurricane Matthew! Florida had its ups and downs, as I found it hard to settle in at the start and being away from home was tough for me. However, because we had a very full schedule with work, it made it easier as I had less time to dwell on being away from home. All of a sudden it was Christmas and I received a package of presents from home. While I was happy to receive them, I was overcome with the emotion of not spending Christmas with my family.

Christmas came and went, and I received a letter to tell me that I was nominated for employee of the month. I then went on to actually win, being the first-ever international intern win this award. This was an absolutely outstanding achievement for me, especially because I received this award from the club managers who had only known me for a few months, yet could see the potential in my ability to work with others and under my own initiative.

Ibis was a very busy club, with over 3000 members. I had the pleasure to be allowed to work in many different roles within the club, particularly management, which added to my overall educational experience. My time at Ibis came to an end, all of a sudden it was April, and my roommate, Vicki, and I took a quick trip to Disney before heading to our new club Great Horse in Western Massachusetts…

It was a massive culture shock to move from the busy state of Florida to the rural state of Massachusetts, not to mention it being absolutely freezing when we arrived. In terms of size, Great Horse was a lot smaller than Ibis, having only 267 members. I am proud to be part of GH’s first experience with international interns. Coming from a well-established club in Florida, I noticed a few opportunities for enhancements at GHand I approached management to share with them the knowledge and expertise I had gained from my previous club. As a result of this, I began to work in the membership and admin offices. I felt proud that I could transfer my expertise from one club to another.

Having had experience in two completely different clubs I realised that I prefer the smaller club at Great Horse as it was a close knit community which was more family oriented.

Overall, I had a phenomenal inspirational year in America, making great contacts as well as meeting and making some amazing friends for life. Not to mention the travelling I did when I was away New York, Boston and Miami to name a few places that I visited. I am in the lucky position that both clubs have offered me a job after I graduate, so I hope to be US bound once again by this time next year!

Interested in learning more about the J-1 Intern and Trainee program? Learn more here!