In this interview with Diganta Chakraborty of IHM Mumbai has shared his experiences. Enjoy reading!

How would you like to introduce yourself to our readers?

Hello! I am Diganta Chakraborty, an alumnus of IHMCTAN Mumbai or Dadar Catering College. I am Western Indian Culinary Association Student Chef of the year 2016 and Nestle Young Chef 2017 respectively. I have been a Member of the Student Council of IHM Mumbai from 2014-2015 and 2016-2017 sessions. Apart from being a chef and hotelier now, I love debating and creative writing as past time.

How your interest came into Hotel Management?

I was studying Science in my +12 CBSE exams hoping to land up with an MBBS, however, I think destiny had some different turns. My father used to travel a lot due to his profession both domestic and abroad which led me to stay most part in hotels, understanding food culture and alternate accommodations. I was intrigued by cultures and food habits of the world and had a hobby of nurturing it. I was selected by NCHM JEE with 301 ranks and hence joined IHM Mumbai.

What was the reaction of your family and friends when you decided to pursue a career in Hotel Management?

My family was always supportive about what I wish to do with my life. Despite few early hesitations about career scope, my father’s open view about hospitality industry made the projection to this industry much more comfortable.

Please give us an overview of your life at IHM Mumbai?

IHM Mumbai is the first hotel management college in South East Asia and the first in India as well. The Alumni of IHM Mumbai is extremely strong with award winning hoteliers, chef celebrities, entrepreneurs, presidents of organisations and restaurateurs emerging from this college for past so many years. The faculty at IHM Mumbai is the strongest who have taught almost every chef, hotelier, restaurateur whom you see in social media or a part of varied Hotel Brands. IHM Mumbai gives holistic development scope to everyone who wants to make a career in hospitality. It is a myth that IHM only teaches you how to cook or be a chef, there are varied scopes to become Revenue Managers, Sales & Marketing, Retail Managers, Human Resource, Event Managing everything. There is a No Ragging Policy in the college and honestly, a walk around the college won’t make you realise who is a senior and who is a junior as we coexist together and help each other. The extracurricular activity in our college is at par with any other college in India. We also have annual food fest Cornucopia which invited media of India and is the most acclaimed in India.

Which things you liked most at your college and which things you think need to be improved?

The best thing about college is how everyone helps everyone in almost every problem of yours. The faculty and students of all semesters coexist as a family and everyone has the liberty to show their skills and make them better. The atmosphere is extremely welcoming and you feel like you are a part of a long-awaited family ever since the day you step in. I personally think everything in the college is fine and nothing needs to be improved.

Please tell us about your internship experience? How many hours did you have to work in a day? Did you get any stipend?

I interned at the ITC Grand Central, Mumbai where I was bestowed by Best Trainee and Most Informative trainee award. The hotel indeed made me make myself better in every possible way and push myself to be better. Work hours were strict 9 hours though sometimes in busy days I preferred to stay back a little longer to learn more about work in pressure and working for big events. Please note my hotel didn’t insist me to stay and it was my own discretion. There was a mandatory single day off in a week with sick leaves. Yes, I was paid a stipend.

Do you think interns be provided with at least the minimum wage rate?

Yes, sometimes somewhere down the line I feel the stipend should be hiked a little better if not to be exact with an employee. We have to remember that it is a part of our academics where we learn how to be a part of the industry and what to learn from working in a real life situation. It teaches you to cope with the work culture and work ethics and should not be misunderstood with employment. Hence, it should not be as much as an employee who has graduated is making.

How did you decide to go for a particular department to make your career?

Well, the decision was made even before I joined college since that is what I aspired to be. It is tough to be a chef from all other sub-departmental professions in the hotel since it needs more time commitment and skill-based experience. However, it is a creative profession and those who want to make a career out of professional cooking and material management should give this a try.

How much marks matters in securing a job in the Hospitality industry?

If you are looking for a lucrative Management Trainee job in the hotel industry to start your career as a manager in a conglomerate, marks matters a lot. If you want to rise up the ladder imbibing more knowledge on every stage, the experience is equally important.

Message for young students of the industry?

This industry demands for selfless work and commitment to time and effort. It is as systematic and disciplined as a military training and if you work hard and make yourself skilful, you are all set to have an exponential career in this industry. As my colleagues and friends say, Hospitality Education mounds your personality and way of life, try to imbibe that. India’s hospitality industry is no more “still at a growing stage” and it is considered to be one of the best in the world currently. If you want a good career with esteemed hospitality brands, start increasing your communication skills, general awareness and build a strong personality worthy of being attracted to. Also, to those who are just joining, “Welcome Aboard!”

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