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Vision International Philippines Hospitality Hiring Fair Featuring Great Wolf Lodge

Zia Kalong | Jan 28, 2019

On October 19, 2018, Vision International Philippines (VIP) hosted a recruitment event for the Great Wolf Lodge (GWL), the “largest family of indoor waterpark resort hotels in North America”. GWL’s Director of Employee Relations Wendy Stephens flew halfway across the globe to meet VIP’s Culinary and Hospitality applicants from all over the country. The fun-filled event ended on a high note as a staggering 80% of the candidates were welcomed to the GWL family.

We at VIP know that interviews can be nerve-wracking. Maybe it’s bearable for a few, exciting for even fewer, but to the rest of us, interviews mean stomach-wrenching anxiety for days leading up to the actual interview day. There’s always so much at stake and you feel as if there’s no room for any mistake. Interviews can get really rough - we get it! That’s why we at VIP do job fairs a bit differently.

VIP is known for its trademark recruitment event called “Cultural Hiring Fair”, a themed hiring event where VIP’s applicants get to meet and interact with hotel representatives from some of the biggest hospitality institutions in the U.S. Applicants vie for Culinary and various Hospitality positions such as Front Office, Food and Beverage, Hospitality Rotational, Retail, Rooms Division and more. The chosen applicants will get a chance to train at the prestigious hotels for a year under the J-1 Visa. (Know more about the visa here)

The theme for our October affair was “Panagbenga” which literally means “season of blooming.” The venue, VIP headquarters, was generously decorated with every color and variety of flora. The scene was unmistakably reminiscent of the February flower festival celebrated in the Summer Capital of the Philippines, Baguio City. The festive and lighthearted air in the room completely overpowered every trace of anxiety so characteristic of recruitment events. The positive mood was attested to by one of the applicants for Rooms Division, Janmarie Diane Bocoboc. I had the chance to talk to Diane as she waited for her turn to be interviewed and she gladly shared with me what led her to VIP’s cultural fair.

“I graduated from Northwestern University last 2016 and traveled to Thailand to intern at a 5-star hotel as Food Attendant for 6 months. I was on my own but I gained a lot of friends once I got there. I learned a lot about their culture and about the hospitality industry during my stay. My experience in Thailand gave me confidence in dealing with different kinds of guests and customers. Of all the things I learned and experienced, the best part of it all was the people I’ve met whom I now call friends. Now that I’m 22 years old, I decided to apply for the U.S. Cultural Exchange Program because I wanted to grow and expand my professional experience while learning about the American culture. I’ve been with other agencies before but to be honest, I highly recommend Vision International Philippines. They are accommodating, approachable and hands-on. It’s no wonder I have friends who are already on their second round of Cultural Exchange Program with VIP! In fact, my brother is also interested in applying for J-1 Traineeship! He actually came here with me today even though the bus ride took 11 hours. The commute didn’t even matter to me because I’m just so excited! Hospitality is truly my passion, I enjoy meeting and talking to different kinds of people. The best part is since this is a Cultural Exchange, I get to share the Filipino culture with them too. I am a proud Ilocana and once I get there, I will proudly share our culture and traditions with the Americans and other J-1 participants! I love sharing what I know as much as I love learning from other people. And when I come back home, I will pass on the things I’ve learned to other people so they are aware that an opportunity like this exists. I really believe we should dream big and have faith that God is able to make our dreams come true!”

Diane’s bold declarations surely paid off as a few days later she gleefully received the good news - she passed! This came as no surprise to us. A positive personality is one of the key qualities hotel executives look for. Combine that with rigorous preparation by the VIP Team (applicants are hyped and given a pep talk by our General Manager even 5 minutes before the interview!) and you’ve got a sure win. Cheerful and smart applicants like Diane will definitely integrate well with a property like Great Wolf Lodge where the average age of guests is… 7 years old! You read that right, seven.

HR Director Wendy Stephens shared that at GWL, fun is key because most of the famous water park resort’s guests are young kids. And she certainly represented GWL well, proudly wearing wolf ears as she spoke in front of the crowd of eager applicants. “Guys, just be yourself and don’t be nervous. It’s hard to be nervous when you’re being interviewed by someone wearing wolf ears!” GWL’s signature wolf ears embodied the fun-loving spirit of the company as well as its family-oriented corporate culture, hence its “wolf pack” sense of belongingness. “Our guests are the most important thing to us, they’re the reason we’re doing this. So we do our best to make sure they get what they came for which is quality family time.” Family values are no stranger to  us Filipinos. This trait has made hospitality almost second nature to us. This is why Great Wolf Lodge found the perfect partner in Filipinos, achieving their recruitment goals for most positions.

The event was not only a success for the participants but also to our guests. Crystal Bunts, Regional Relationship Manager at Alliance Abroad, even got emotional upon witnessing how much Vision takes care of the applicants. She said that it was one of, if not the best group of applicants she’s ever interviewed and the most organized job fair that she has attended. It was a very special moment for Team VIP. To us, it means the world to see our applicants reach their dreams and know that our partners had a great time with us. It was a moment to remember why we’re here, why we spend late nights at the office, why we go above and beyond what is required of us: to truly provide unlimited opportunities for the Filipino people.

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Zia Kalong

Zia is a Communication Arts alumna of the University of Santo Tomas. She joined Vision International Philippines with the sole purpose of helping the VIP team realize #OneVision: showcase the Filipino talent all over the world. As Content Strategist, she hopes to embolden promising Filipinos and empower them to thrive in life.

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