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Water you waiting for….

07 Sep 2016
Ahhh, water, the essence of life. It hydrates, energizes and purifies us, and without it, we would cease to exist. It is also the essence of spa. So much so, that the origin of the word spa is believed to be rooted in water derived from the latin “Salude Per Aqua”, meaning “health or healing through water.” It is omnipresent in the spa world, which would also cease to exist without it.

As I sat down to write about Experiential Learning Programs or ELPs, I couldn’t help but find a correlation between water and ELPs. I will explain further, but first, you might be asking, what is an ELP?

ELPs, as defined by the Global Internship Program, encompass internships, externships, manager-in-training programs and job shadowing. Each one has been explained in great detail in the Global Best Practices for Spa and Wellness Internships Guide, developed by the Global Internship Program. Each one of these provides students and professionals with the chance to gain hands-on experience. The result being that you gain enhanced marketability and competitive advantage in an industry that is growing exponentially - from $60 billion in 2007 to $94 billion in 2013 according to the Global Wellness Institute.

I remember my “field placement” (as it was called back then), as a second year student esthetician at Sheridan College in Ontario, Canada. In my first term I chose to work with a sales representative for a cosmetic distributor because the idea of travel appealed to me. In my second term, I worked in a day spa. Here’s what’s so great about hands-on experience; you not only have the opportunity to find out what you REALLY LIKE to do, but also what you REALLY DON’T LIKE to do. Even though I love to travel, I found I was not cut out to be in sales (even though later down the road I would take sales positions with two different companies, but that’s another blog). There was also a nice bonus in my second placement - I was offered a part-time job that led to a full-time position when I graduated! How great is that?

As a professor, I continue to emphasize the importance of practical experience to my students beyond the classroom. There is no comparison in gaining hands-on experience in the workplace. It provides depth and meaning to classroom taught theories and concepts. For instance, I teach a class on customer service and the course begins with students taking a modified Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) questionnaire. The questionnaire is designed to show psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions. The idea is to not only have students gain a deeper understanding of themselves in the workplace, but also how they interact with others, whether it be with a co-worker, manager or a customer and what to do to gain optimal interactional outcomes. ELPs give the student the opportunity to enhance this knowledge and skill. Conversely, businesses can benefit from new concepts and skills students learn. Whether it be a new sales tool that increases therapist sales without putting pressure on them or the client, or the student raising awareness on the most current Provincial or State health regulations that employed therapists may be short-cutting.

So, this brings me back to the connection I see with water and ELPs.

- We need water to hydrate and energize us, thus achieving equilibrium or balance. ELPs also provide energy (“fresh pair of eyes”) and balance for the workplace by helping meet the demand for more therapists.

- Purifies: ELPs, like water, can help reinvent the old, bringing in fresh new ideas (or water!).

Bottom line:

- Water is essential to all living things AND

- ELPs are essential to meeting the development and growth of the spa industry

What are you waiting for… let’s jump in feet first!

By: Kathryn Gallagher

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