Training: Diary of an Intern

It’s July. Exams are over and a long awaited summer approaches. But for many undergraduates in the UK it is not just a time to relax but also to apply their newly embedded knowledge to the valuable experience of an internship. These placements are highly beneficial; not only do they allow a student to apply knowledge gained in their degree but also offer relevant work experience. And perhaps, if you’re lucky, even a financial gain.

Being a student with an aptitude for mathematics, I have a deep appreciation for numbers. Therefore I considered myself lucky to be accepted as an intern by Crown and Champa Resorts, who offered me three weeks of work experience in the accounting department of Meeru Island Resort.

Along came July 25th and I was on my way, excited and nervous at the prospect of living on such a small island in the middle of the Indian Ocean. I am British-Maldivian and I lived in Male’ for the first half of my life, so I am not unacquainted with the notably different lifestyle of the Maldives. Nonetheless, my preconception of life on Meeru was not all that accurate.Day 1

So far people seem nice. I’ve just been introduced to my Czechoslovakian roommate for the next three weeks, Jan. I can already see we’re going to get along really well.

I have just met my colleagues in Accounts; some Maldivian and others from Sri Lanka and India. My uniform seems okay; a light blue shirt accompanied by dark blue shorts.

It really strikes me how self-sufficiently the resort operates – everything is provided on the island, from a tailor and staff shop to a staff pool and gym. Even the nametags are manufactured on the island. This is certainly more than I expected.

Only four hours after my arrival I am working the night shift. Talk about being thrown in the deep end! This is going to ruin my sleeping pattern.On arrival I met Julee, personnel manager, who gave me a brief introduction to the rules and regulations of living and working on Meeru and an idea of the facilities available to the staff. I was pleased to be presented with a personalised training programme for the duration of my internship. From there I was shown to my room where I met Jan, a fellow intern who was currently working in the Front Office but was soon to join me in Accounts. Unfortunately, we were working utterly different shifts, which meant getting used to sleeping through my new roommate waking up only a couple of hours after I had succumbed to sleep, having completed a night shift.

My first six nights on the island were spent night auditing – initially exhausting but a thorough introduction to the working world of accountancy. At the outset, some of the processes of being a night auditor, which were entirely new to me, were lost in translation. However, soon my rusty Dhivehi rapidly improved and thus my understanding of the job. Night auditing on Meeru was not just about punching in data and cross-referencing. Communication skills were also called into play, especially when I found myself making and receiving interdepartmental phone calls. This was a bit daunting at first, but, much like the rest of night auditing, a little bit of practice goes a long way. My supervisor, Ibrahim, was the only person in the office during the shift. Night auditing can be a lonely job.

It had been an entire week into my stay when I finally ate my first breakfast on Meeru; the night shift was over. It was strange, waking up to find a set of faces at work I had never seen before. These colleagues were on my new day shift and I quickly came to realise the depth of the different types of work in the department. Accounts Payable swallowed me whole for a solid nine days. I found this element of my internship to be most enjoyable; partly as a result of the increased responsibility which stemmed from signing many a hefty cheque. Attention to detail was key.Day 10

We saw a stingray today! Jan and I borrowed some snorkelling gear from the dive school in the morning and went for a swim on the northern side of the island when we spotted the little fellow. Unfortunately, we forgot the camera. Shame.

I’ve been playing lots of table tennis in my breaks and I have been keeping them on their toes!

I’m changing to Accounts Payable tomorrow. I’m excited but a little anxious too – I’ve been told I will be writing cheques to various companies. I enjoyed my time in Accounts Receivable. Some of it is really fascinating and not at all how I expected it to be. I hope tomorrow brings much of the same.Now that I could see the light of day, I discovered what the other employees got up to in their free time. I expended a lot of time in the Ekuveni – a staff recreational area equipped with a store and plenty of game tables. Many a night was spent playing table tennis, pool or even chess. Occasionally I was even able to head to the beach and explore the surrounding reef with Jan. I cherished those opportunities; it’s not every day you see a stingray in England! Other activities took place over the course of my stay: one evening I was invited out to go fishing with another department which Jan was working in. We barbequed our catch and watched the sun go down with dolphins in the background. Magical.

Meanwhile my Dhivehi had been steadily improving and I was able to join in much of the office talk. After a week of Accounts Payable I knew the process from head to toe. At this point Jan joined me in Accounts and since I now understood many of the operations in the department my supervisor offered me a fantastic opportunity: I assisted in teaching Jan. I have always felt that teaching others is the best form of learning; this proved to solidify that belief.

Due to the aforementioned, contrary to my expectations, I found myself able to genuinely support colleagues. I had been practising my programming skills during my spare time and in the second half of my placement I decided to code some of the documents and spreadsheets the office used in order to streamline the accounting process.

This was a substantial learning curve for me and gave me many skills that I can certainly apply in the future. Once I had completed a couple of documents I even got a request from a colleague to make a specialised one, which saved him around fifteen minutes per day. I felt happy to have given something back in return for what can only be described as an incredibly enjoyable internship.Day 20

We had a special task today. We were all called up by Pradip (our financial controller) to a storeroom behind the staff swimming pool. The job was to clear the room out of all the folders and transport them to the maintenance office. We passed them along in a train, chucking them at times to each other – akin to a cartoon! According to my supervisor they will be audited later in the year. We only keep the records from the last 5 years. I enjoyed the physical work for a change. Who would have thought accounting involved manual labour?

I only have a tiny handful of days left on Meeru. I’m definitely going to miss everyone here.

Hotelier Maldives is published by Perspective Pvt Ltd, (PPL), a company based in the Maldives. PPL has interests in tourism and hospitality related publishing, travel and leisure related services and products.