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Want to experience the Maldives? A Curtin degree could take you there

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The Maldives are a dream holiday destination for many people. The tropical nation is renowned for its pristine beaches, blue lagoons and extensive reefs, not to mention its endless luxury accommodation, outdoor activities and friendly locals.

Claudia Foster on the shores of One&Only Reethi Rah resort.

Four Curtin commerce students ticked the Maldives from their bucket lists this year when they travelled to the archipelago as recipients of the New Colombo Plan Mobility Program.

The students received four weeks of hands-on experience in human resource management and industrial relations at some of the Maldives’ most deluxe hotels and resorts.

We spoke to one of the students, Claudia Foster, who shared with us her intern experience at One&Only Reethi Rah resort.

Eight staff hold a welcome sign beneath a large bungalow beside the water's edge.

Foster received a very warm welcome from the staff at One&Only. Credit: Claudia Foster.

“My first impression of the Maldives and the airport was that it was very crowded and compact, but as soon as we reached the resort it was an entirely different experience all together,” says Foster, who is in her final year of a double degree in psychology and human resource management and industrial relations.

“Reethi Rah was so pristine and secluded, the gardens were immaculate and the ocean had such clarity and colour. I knew as soon as we got off the yacht that we were going to be part of something very special over the next month.”

During her internship, Foster helped to implement One&Only’s new food and beverage online training program and localise its international human resources policies and procedures to better suit its operation needs.

“We also spent a significant amount of time identifying which departments needed further training by examining guest surveys and using performance standards programs,” says Foster.

“One of our major tasks was empowering employees to work at their maximum potential and ensuring they had the tools and training to do this. Guests staying at the property are paying thousands of dollars a night and have very high expectations. One of the core values of the Only&One brand is blowing the guest away, so there is a constant need to refine and update guest service skills.”

Claudia Foster and her fellow recruits experience the guest water villas of One&Only resort. Credit: Claudia Foster.

Claudia Foster (centre) and her fellow recruits experience the guest water villas of One&Only resort. Credit: Claudia Foster.

The New Colombo Plan Mobility Program funds undergraduate students aged between 18 to 28 to live, work and study in 40 locations across the Indo-Pacific region.

It enables students to gain practical experience in their field of study while developing their knowledge of a different country and culture.

“We were working and living with 800 other employees from 36 different nations on a tiny island in the middle of the Indian Ocean – that experience in itself is something I never would have had without the New Colombo Plan grant and internship,” says Foster.

Foster would like to venture into HR in the hospitality industry once she graduates and says studying a double degree at Curtin has diversified her knowledge and skills.

“I think human resources and psychology complement one another nicely. Studying a double degree has given me a broader range of knowledge than if I had chosen to study just one degree.

“Even though both degrees are people focused, they are from two very different perspectives and have allowed me to look at people from both a health science and human capital perspective.”

A turtle swims just beneath the water's surface.

Turtles are just some of the underwater sights you could in the Maldives. Credit: Claudia Foster.

But it wasn’t all work for the intern, and Foster had plenty of downtime during her stay to enjoy the Maldives’ rich beauty and culture.

“One of my major highlights was the people we worked with. Everyone was so welcoming and friendly, I felt very privileged that we had the opportunity to learn about other colleagues’ cultures and experiences,” says Foster.

“We were also fortunate enough to go scuba diving, wind surfing and snorkel with manta rays which was incredible.”

The 2019 round of the New Colombo Plan Mobility Program is now open and closes on 18 May.

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