Hospitality Management students Katie Owen and Harry White travelled to America last year as part of the 600 hours work experience required to complete their foundation-degree course. Little did they know that their time there would have such an impact and that they would be returning again this year!
Katie, 19, who is specialising in culinary hospitality management at the College, worked as a Counsellor at Easterseals Camp Sno Mo in New Hampshire, working with children with mental and physical disabilities. She said:
“I’ve really grown from the experience; academically, but even more so as a person. I’ve gone from ‘maybe I can do this’ to ‘I know I can do this’.
“Originally I wanted to progress into product development, but after travelling I’ve realised I’d love to be a teacher, working with children with disabilities, teaching them to cook. I got so much out of my time at Camp and now I want to use my skills and knowledge to help others if I can. I’ve completed the work experience needed for my course, but I enjoyed it so much that I really wanted to go back again.”
Katie returns to Camp Sno Mo on the 8th June. She adds: “For anybody thinking of travelling overseas for work experience, I would say, if you get the chance go for it because you will be amazed of what you get out of it; and in my case, it’s completely changed the career direction I was going in.”
Harry travelled all the way to Ohio to work at YMCA Camp Willson. Like Katie, Harry worked as a Councellor, working with local and underprivileged children, aged 7-10. He said:
“It’s crazy how much you learn out there! I’ve discovered that comfort paralyses you; this area of work experience really takes you out of your comfort zone, and I think I returned as a better person. I’m more independent, confident, and I’d say I’m more ambitious now too.
“At the time, I didn’t realise I was making memories, I was just having fun. From that one experience I found friends from all over the world - I lived like a local; it was really nice. When I had the opportunity to return this year I jumped at the chance!”
Both Katie and Harry are progressing to the BA Hons Degree in Service Sector Management at the College. Harry adds: “I decided to continue my studies here at College because I’ve had a great experience so far and after initially looking at universities I realised that College could offer me far more in terms of smaller, more personal class sizes with encouraging lecturers who are willing to go the extra mile. Why go to uni and be just a number in a lecture theatre when I can sit around a table in class and ask my lecturer there and then if I have any questions? It was a no-brainer for me. Here you get college support from a university-level course, which really suits me.
“Eventually I’d love to work as a Duty Manager for a large airport like Heathrow, but for now, I’m concentrating on completing my final dissertation before I leave for Ohio at the end of this month (28 May). I’m looking forward to starting College again in September and working towards my dream job.”
Hospitality & Tourism Course Leader, Sue Mckinnon, comments: “I would always encourage my students to travel overseas for their work experience if they are able to because they come back transformed!
“My students are responsible for planning their work placement from start to finish, and for those travelling abroad, that includes all the legalities that come with it, like applying for their visa and organising all of their travel arrangements. All of this research and preparation is fantastic for their confidence and independence.
“I’ve been teaching in this area for five years and from experience, students who have a really good placement tend to do much better because they challenge and stretch themselves more. They develop soft skills, the ability to leave home and have the opportunity to interact with different people from all walks of life.
“I thinks it’s fantastic that both Katie and Harry are off again this year and it just goes to show how much their experience has benefitted them. I look forward to their return to College in September as I think they both have very bright futures ahead of them.”