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Your vacation. His vocation.
Daniel Bernardes started his Master of Arts in Tourism Management internship thinking he would be assistant front desk manager at a luxury hotel in downtown Victoria.
Then COVID-19 hit and he pivoted from welcoming guests to helping shut the place down.
“I have worked in the industry for 14 years and I have seen a lot of things,” he says. “I’ve met kings, princes, presidents and prime ministers. I’ve dealt with suicides and bombs but I had never, ever closed a hotel. We even joke in the industry that hotels don’t need locks on their door because they never close.”
Bernardes came to Victoria from his native Brazil in 2019. He graduated from Les Roches, one of the top hotel management schools in the world, and went on to work in Atlanta, Georgia for about three years before moving back to Brazil. He worked his way up through several hotels but despite his experience, he wanted to continue growing in his career.
“I wanted to do a masters in Canada and did a lot of research looking for places to come. I really liked the program at Royal Roads,” Bernardes says of the program, which combines team-based work and online learning, field studies, semester abroad opportunities, an optional internship, three optional specializations and three completion options.
For Bernardes, the internship, and the support he would receive throughout his WIL experience, was a big draw.
“Most of the time Canadian employers do not count any experience from abroad as relevant. If you do not have Canadian experience, you are probably not getting a job here,” he says.
Bernardes worried a hotel of that caliber would overlook him for a management position given his limited Canadian experience. After having an informal meeting with the director, he was selected for an interview.
“I ended up being the best person for the position, so I got hired,” says Bernardes.
In addition to closing the hotel, Bernardes played key roles in reopening services once it was safe to do so.
“We had to adapt the whole service to the new COVID protocols. Hotels are very service-oriented and we are always in very close contact with guests. We had to re-wire our brains and our protocols to make sure that we were following the rules. The hotel invited me to stay on permanently as the front office manager,” Bernardes says, something he attributes in part to the support he received as part of his WIL experience.
Not only did Royal Roads University’s Career Learning and Development office support Bernardes during his internship, they also supported him to continue working in hospitality in Canada while helping him connect with people in the industry.
“We spend a lot of time on one-on-one coaching,” says Natasha Dilay, manager of Career, Learning and Development. “We invest the resources into teaching the students the skills and giving them the support for outreach.”
For Bernardes, that support meant the world.
“I don’t think I would have got to where I am now if I did not have the assistance of the Career Learning and Development office. There are just too many things that we do not know coming here.”