March turned out to be quite a busy month! It seemed as if all the projects we had been planning with the Hanoi Tourism College, one of WUSC Vietnam’s local partners, came together at the same time. Prior to my arrival in Hanoi, I had imagined that the workshops and capacity building activities I would deliver would be nicely spread out evenly throughout my mandate, thus giving me a more than comfortable timeframe to prepare in advance so that all aspects of my workshops would be flawless. Not once did my daily musings envision the lack of Internet connection, the malfunction of a projector or the last-minute cancellation of the necessary guest speakers. Go figure! I have come to be accustomed to these situations during my mandate and have grown to enjoy the challenges it creates and to adapt to unforeseen changes quickly. When in Vietnam, you just have to learn to roll with it!

Therefore, in 4 short weeks, I delivered three sessions of the “I Have A Dream Campaign”, a project created by past Uniterra volunteers, which is aimed at motivating students to be active participants in their education by helping them determine what their goals and dreams are and to provide direction on how to achieve them. It was also designed to provide career inspiration and guidance for students by inviting guest speakers to discuss work opportunities and provide career counselling on the tourism and hospitality sector. The campaign was piloted at Hanoi Tourism College with 20 students from HTC’s various training programs in the form of 4 sessions that concluded with the organization of a networking breakfast.

Being familiar with job-hunting myself, I know how daunting (see panic inducing) networking can be. I wanted to offer the students the opportunity to be familiarized with different career opportunities and receive advice on job search, as well as tips on how to overcome the challenges one faces when entering the job market in an informal and relaxed environment. My enthusiasm for the idea of students meeting prospective employers while eating pastries was definitely met with some scepticism by the staff, but they still jumped on board right away. I have to credit the success of this event to our guest speakers, as they were incredibly engaging and candid about their path to employment and the hurdles they faced along the way to attaining successful careers in the tourism and hospitality industry. I really hope events like this one will be replicated in the future, as students said it had helped demystify the concept of the hidden job market and they left the event feeling enthusiastic and positive about their future!

Another notable big win from that morning: one of our guests, Mr. Nguyen Minh Duc, offered to create internships for HTC students at the Intercontinental Hanoi Westlake hotel, where he manages 3 restaurants, 3 bars and 1 banqueting room. I hope it turns out to be a positive experience for the students and an effective partnership between the two institutions!