American Hotel Academy Alumnus recruiting students from…American Hotel Academy (or shared success story)

Erik Kovacs is an American Hotel Academy alumnus that fought hard for winning the position of his dreams, in Lapland, close to the Aurora Borealis. He is now there, in the management team of a hotel where he applies the attitude and knowledge he acquired in Romania, at AHA. Recently, he has decided to recruit from our American Hotel Academy’s students, selecting the suitable ones for a nice journey to Lapland. We feel he has never forgotten where he started from…

Please introduce yourself and your professional experience—including internships.

My name is Erik Mark Kovacs, I graduated from American Hotel Academy in 2013 and now I manage a hotel in Swedish Lapland. While I was a student,t I completed two F&B internships in Greece and USA. After graduation, I joined SantaSafari, and I have been with them ever since.

For me, American Hotel Academy was the journey to who I am today, and I still consider it the best decision of my life

How has American Hotel Academy changed your way of thinking, your professional path?

I would actually go back to 2008 when I enrolled in the Hospitality Management program with American Hospitality Academy, today’s American Hotel Academy. I remember that during my first few months, I found it kind of funny and embarrassing to be so open, believe in yourself and actually think that you can be something having this kind of attitude, but with the time passing I became part of it, forcing myself in the beginning and becoming natural to the end. For me, American Hotel Academy was the journey to who I am today, and I still consider it the best decision of my life.

I appreciated mostly the teachers with a strong hands-on background

Who were the teachers that marked your career path?

It would be unfair to mention names, given the fact that we had so many quality teachers, but I always appreciated the general policy of the school and I appreciated mostly the teachers with a strong hands-on background in what they were teaching us. Some courses like Marketing and Project Management were very inspirational and some were shocking, such as Housekeeping (I have never thought that actually I am not able to make a bed).

A smile… is more exciting than the Aurora Borealis itself…

Please give an example of a situation in your professional life that marked you and that you will remember as a special one?

Some would say that meeting celebrities is inspirational, but not me. Seeing regular families or friends coming out to enjoy their vacations and being part of their experience is what makes it special. Right now, we get lots of people coming out trying to fulfil one of their lifetime dreams: seeing the Aurora Borealis. The smile on their face and their excitement is something worth more photos than the Aurora itself.

At American Hotel Academy I had the feeling that I am part of something big

What did you like the most in being an American Hotel Academy student?

I liked the friendships that I have built, the feeling that I am part of something big and the idea of becoming good at something.

My tip: Choose the professional path that gives you the chills, not the one that “others choose as well”

What tips can you share with your first years’ colleagues that are now students at American Hotel Academy?

They should all look deep into themselves and use these years to become as open and honest as possible, and find their own life philosophy. Always go for what you like, choose the professional path that gives you the chills, not the one that “others chose as well”. Get involved in extracurricular activities, experience, fail, do stupid things, now it is the time, later no one will forgive your mistakes.

How would you describe your potential AHA student employee? What should they be like?

They should be enthusiastic, with outstanding theoretical knowledge, brave and smart.

Can you make them a recommendation as an alumnus?

Build your career and life so that you are happy both on and off duty. Find the balance, enjoy the change, take advantage of the challenges and turn them into opportunities. Do not necessarily go for jobs with big hotel chains. The industry is changing, now it is about individuals, not about the companies. Go where you can implement your knowledge and ideas, they will appreciate that. Do not try to be a small part of something big, you’d better be a big part of something smaller.

Do not expect big skill development in your first internship, but the internship is very useful on a human level and it will help you grow…

What was your first job in hospitality? Detail your experience on it

My first real “job” was my internship in Greece. After the first two days I cried and wanted to go home. I never cleaned so many tables, glasses and cutlery in my life, but I had to understand that it is part of my development and right now, I do not understand the expression “hard work” anymore, is just “work”. On a professional level, it was useful because it was my first time facing foreign guests, and it was a cultural shock that served me well later on. Do not expect significant skill development in your first internship, companies look for people that can do the hard work, at that level, but it is very useful on a human level and it will help you grow.

The course of my career so far definitely outlined me as a hospitality person.

What was the job that outlined you as a hospitality person?

We become hospitality persons in the very beginning of our encounter with the phenomenon, the one who does not, will probably quit and this is perfectly fine. You can be the enthusiastic, smiling and “I do it all” hospitality person at entry level, and the pragmatic one when reaching a higher level. Both types are important, one cannot function without the other, so understand the process and observe the changes in yourself. I cannot pinpoint a job, but the course of my career so far has definitely defined me as a hospitality person.

Stay around these people…

Who inspires you? Who do you admire the most in your career?

I admire the kind of people that can be straight forward with you, with whom you can debate half a day, who can criticize your ideas, frustrate you, bring the most out of you, but when leaving work, will sit down, have a beer with you and a good laugh. These are the strong people that make you better and who we should all aim to become. Stay around these people.


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