Sonam and Kaveri Shinde are sisters who live not far from the Reality Gives Community Center with their parents and two brothers. Kaveri participated in the Youth Empowerment Program last year, receiving English Language Support, computer training, and soft skills instruction. When someone from Youth Career Initiative came to recruit for a 6-month hotel management internship, they excitedly interviewed knowing it would be good for their future. Upon being selected, they were placed in the prestigious JW Marriot located in the western suburbs of Mumbai. While there, they were introduced to the logistics of running a hotel – especially a large one catering to a number of international guests. The Marriot has 5 floors and 355 rooms, along with a gym, pool, and restaurant with various food options available (Italian, Chinese, and even a 24-hour café). The young women would report for work one day a week and shadow a shift for 9-10 hours. They quickly learned that Saturdays and Sundays are the busiest days in the industry. From cleaning and housekeeping to service work and reception, they experienced a wide-range of duties and responsibilities – even making cakes while helping in the kitchen! They both agree that their favorite aspect of the hotel business is guest relations because everyone was nice and it was interesting interacting with people from all over the world. When asked their least favorite part of the program they don’t even miss a beat: “Dishes.”
Along the way, they received feedback and evaluation from supervisors on what they did well and areas of improvement. Both were told that expanding their English language skills will help them make progress in the area of customer service. The girls smile at each other and their eyes twinkle in thinking of their best moment. They definitely think a highlight was getting to meet singer Anu Malik. They proudly show off their certificates that recognize their successful completion of the program in December. Their parents are happy also. Sonam would love to work with computers (she would like to take a private computer class to advance her skills first) and Kaveri is interested in continuing to work at a hotel, though both assert that they would take “any job.” They believe their internship experience helped them with job preparation and will recommend it to others in Dharavi if the opportunity presents itself next year. In the meantime, they must now delve into the chaotic job search process – looking for jobs, applying, waiting, and hoping.
This article was written by the volunteers Trevor and Charmayne.