Coming out of school can be a process that has you being fairly uncertain as to what you're now going to do with the shiny CXC certificates. You come out into the wider world realizing that unless you go into another school system a number of things will change.
- No three vacations a year
- You have to literally earn your keep to sustain your livelihood
- Uncertainty of whether you'll see your school friends again and when
- Making choices about studying further or going to work, both of which can seem daunting. There's no natural progression.
The world has a lot of choices which can be overwhelming since no amount of visiting the guidance counselor in school can ever prepare you for. You have to think about what you would consider fair remuneration should you work. Ongoing school has a plethora of choices, many of which you never heard about since it's not as easy as choosing a subject area.
I kind of stumbled onto hotel management at Barbados Community College. When I went to the interviews I was still uncertain as to what I wanted to do. When I learned about the program I asked what it entailed and I learned about the practical attributes coupled with the theory. This intrigued me since the time at which I came along experience and qualifications were played off against each other by many employers; if you had one they wanted the other. The game still continues I've learned - frustrating to the applicants who just want to work.
Internships are where the theoretical information comes together. You learn that though you studied formally, there is still a lot to be learned from those who have no formal training but loads of experience. Internships allow you to learn how to function within a practical setting.
My firsthand exposure via internships enabled me to become a believer in their significance afterwards. They proved invaluable permitting me to work in every single area of the hotel both large and small. This permitted exposure to areas that I would not have had should I have followed the conventional route if study.
We built networks of colleagues from around the region both here in Barbados as well as in The Bahamas. When faced with issues, I personally was told, hotel management is not just what happens in the classroom, it is a way of life which must be handled accordingly. Talk about preparation, we never received any pampering/sheltering of any sort within the work force. Therefore we were more equipped for the transition to the world of work.
Our studies were intense, and doing field research were often told that we were functioning at a level higher than our qualifications we were pursuing. We committed to excellence and professionalism. Like anyone else, we face challenges within the workplace, but our experiences allowed us to function at a greater level of maturity.
I would recommend it to anyone who is searching and uncertain of their career paths. You gain insights that can only auger you well in you chosen area(s).
Since 2020 we have formally founded the UWIAA CHTM where we are a virtual, global network of people with very diverse backgrounds within and outside of the industry. We are a resource that tourism entities across the region may draw upon for assistance.