ESEI’s true value: Project-Based Learning
We’re proud to report on an exciting project in which some of our Master’s students had the opportunity to take part. Victoria Masters’ class was invited to prove themselves in front of the Majestic Hotel’s HR team – and they did so with flying colors. Here’s how the event unfolded.
The benefits of Project-Based Learning
At ESEI we’re huge proponents of Project-Based Learning (PBL). It’s an approach to learning that enables students to learn by actively engaging in real-world projects that are meaningful to them. As our Head of Academics Rosanna West explained in a previous blog post, “PBL connects students with the real world.”
We encourage our professors to plan activities outside of the classroom and have their students work together with local companies on real-life business problems. And Victoria Masters, our Professional Communication and Development module teacher, organized a fantastic opportunity for her students to do just that.
She came up with a unique challenge that would give students real-life experiences that they can add to their professional portfolios.
Our students’ presentations at the Majestic Hotel
This was more than just a school activity – the stakes were real. Victoria’s students had the opportunity to present their ideas for onboarding activities in front of the HR team of the Majestic Hotel.
If they did well, some of their ideas would be implemented in the hotel’s onboarding process. Victoria says she planned the project to “give the students first-hand experience of working closely with an iconic luxury hotel in the city of Barcelona.”
“The activities were based on the values of the hotel and at least one per group had to be sustainable, ” Victoria explains. “In class, we had studied presentation skills and techniques of persuasion. So the students had used the theory and now they had the chance to put it into practice,” she adds.
The innovative onboarding event that our students took part in was organized with support from the hotel’s HR Training Manager, Sergi Mora.
“This project is important to us because we consider onboarding one of the most important parts of the entire recruitment process,” he says.
According to Mr. Mora, the onboarding process is the first impression that new recruits get of the company they’ve just joined. That’s why it’s so important to provide them with an engaging onboarding experience.
The reason why Mr. Mora and his team chose to work with our students was because they wanted to bring in a fresh pair of eyes: motivated professionals with innovative ideas.
“It doesn’t mean that we are old-fashioned, but we would like to look for new ideas, new activities, more dynamism and we’re totally convinced that we’re getting this with Esei,” he says.
He goes on to say that the onboarding event was a “perfect chance to twist our concept of onboarding” and reinvent the whole process, as called for by their company values.
Putting theory into practice: from the student’s perspective
The Professional Communication and Development module helps students get to grips with effective verbal and nonverbal communication strategies for the workplace. It does so both in terms of internal communication and external communication and also trains students to speak in public and develop their presentation and filmmaking skills. The presentation at the Majestic Hotel gave students the chance to demonstrate all these skills.
The class was divided into five groups, and they each presented the ideas they had prepared.
But how did they do?
According to student Novi Kartikasari: “It was a smooth start from the beginning until the end. It went better than I expected. Each group presented their activities and their best.”
When asked how their team prepared for the presentation, Kasper Baars says: “We started by each coming up with different ideas during the Christmas break based on the company and service value that was already provided. We then presented our ideas in our group and voted the best two for each. We then repeated this with the whole class, letting them vote out of our best two ideas. After that, we worked out further details and assigned everyone roles – presenter, timekeeper, group support, etc.”
Examples of onboarding activities designed by our students
Kasper and Novi’s team – The Luxury Strategy Team – came up with three activities: one icebreaker game and two activities to illustrate the values of the company and the luxury department. These were the ideas they presented:
- Jenga Icebreaker
To start with, the team presented an icebreaker game for the new employees to get to know each other in a fun, creative way.
As Kasper explains: “Jenga is the starting point of many fun gatherings. It’s a super easy game to explain and anyone can join at any time. When you draw a block, the player is to read the question on that block and share the answer with the group before placing the piece on top of the tower. This can ignite exciting conversations. Questions include: Describe your average Friday night. What do you spend too much money on? Or if you could time-travel, where would you go?”
- A Little Spark
According to Kasper, the game demonstrated a core company value – “work together“.
“We asked participants to create a personalized card, based on a guest profile with the materials provided (magazines, colored pencils, glue, scissors, etc). Each group could present their card and we acted as the jury to pick the best one,” he says.
- Majestic Journey
The objective of the last activity was to demonstrate the value: of “be open to going off the menu”.
“A memorable customer experience goes beyond the standard hotel offering,” says Kasper. “So for this activity, we asked groups to prepare a travel guide based on the same guest profiles with the aim to provide an authentic Barcelona experience,” he says.
Kasper is a confident speaker, so he wasn’t nervous to be speaking in front of a crowd at all.
“As the feedback was positive, the presentation went really well. A lot of creativity was going around, and I believe it demonstrated the values well. It also seemed like people were genuinely having fun, which is great,” he says.
Takeaways from the event
All in all, Novi was very happy with what she learned.
“It was a useful experience. It enriched my soft skills around work in a team, becoming a problem solver, communicating effectively within the group, as well as delivering and receiving ideas,” she says.
Kasper feels similarly.
“On the other hand, it’s useful to really dig into onboarding processes, and how to explain company values in an interactive way. On the other hand, the organisation that goes behind it, not just within the group but liaising with the whole class, the professor, the hotel, was a very valuable experience in terms of stakeholder, time, and logistics management,” he says.
Victoria was also very happy with the students’ participation and performance. Next to Novi and Kasper’s group, she highlighted another activity that stuck with her which was called “Spot the 10 mistakes”. This involved a team activity where new recruits have to spot mistakes in a hotel room’s housekeeping.
“As expected, I was nervous before presenting, especially because I was really concerned about going over our presentation time and then affecting our other classmates,” says María Fernanda Arechavaleta, a member of the team who designed this fun scavenger hunt. “But once I started talking and looking at the positive reactions from the whole class, my anxiety went away.”
María Fernanda was happy with how the presentations went, and she found the experience very useful. “I believe these experiences help us to get a more realistic idea of how team work and pitches look like outside the academic environment. Plus, they are an opportunity to start building a professional network,” she says.
Mr Mora reaffirmed that they will be taking “maximum advantage” of the ideas presented at the event and are planning to implement some of them into the Majestic Hotel’s onboarding process.
Are you intrigued by the Project-Based Learning approach? Would you like to take a course that can prepare you for a successful career? Check out our Master’s programmes and apply now!