By Aoife McGinley, Career Advancement Program Ambassador Scholar

I safely arrived in New York after a long 7 hour flight, tired but full of excitement. We had a long wait ahead of us – another 6 hour wait until our second flight of the day! We stepped onto the plane, which resembled an old bus from the 1960’s. As I found my seat and glanced around to find a familiar face, my fear of flying started to get worse. We were up in the air no more than 15 minutes and we got a warning not to leave our seats because we were flying through a hurricane! I can safely say I have never experienced worse in my life.  When we eventually got off the plane, I didn’t know whether or not to kiss the ground because I actually made it to Florida in one piece!

Now, at 12 am we stepped outside the terminal where the humid heat hits you! Yep, we’re definitely in the US. Spot the Irish: we’re all standing round with hoodies on in the sweltering heat!
We were taxied from the airport to our Apartments to be met by our landlord, Francis. She showed us around and brought us to Walmart to get bedclothes and food. Straight to bed for all 6 of us after that day of traveling! My apartment is pretty big considering I share it with five other Irish interns. We quickly settled in on our first night, and as we say in Ireland, “we hit the hay”, after the exhausting trip we had just completed. Having the weekend off to recharge and find our way about West Palm was perfect because Monday morning came fast.

Our first day at IBIS Country Club was nerve-racking. Getting ready for work was like your first day in school. Thankfully IBIS provided transport for all their interns from our apartments to the club, alleviating a lot of stress about how we were going to get to work. Everyone meets at the mailboxes in the morning to catch the bus. On Monday it was like a mob of international students buzzing with excitement to finally get to explore Florida and our new jobs at the club. As we pull up to IBIS, we are met with a huge entrance surrounded by manicured lawns. Seeing pictures of the landscape does not give it justice. The sheer beauty of the club, surrounded in golf courses and ponds, really does look like paradise.

We were met by the human resource manager, Mandy Long, as we get off the bus. It was nice to see a familiar face, especially in the flesh, as she had spoke to us all via Skype. We went to the orientation room and took our assigned seats; in front of us, there was a welcome pack and our name badges. The purpose of the day was to meet various key members of staff as well as getting to know the rest of the international interns. We spent the next five days in training, learning various types of service with Michael. An important aspect of the training included memorizing the IBIS core values, also known as the Core 4:

I – Insist on excellence
B – Be a team player
I – Integrity in everything
S – Superior Service

 IBIS has an incentive program in which they award staff members who do whatever it takes to deliver the IBIS experience. As an award, staff is given IBIS bucks. The manager then notifies HR and these bucks are put on your record. The staff member with the most bucks is then added to a raffle to win prizes. This is an excellent way to motivate staff to work hard; I received my first IBIS buck on the second day for remembering the Core 4!

Interested in having an experience like Aoife? Learn more about our J-1 Intern/Trainee program!