"I Thought my Job at 18 would be Pulling Beers at the Pub... I Never Thought I'd be Working at a 5 Star Hotel!"
From Food and Beverage attendant, to Events Coordinator in less than 12 months? It’s possible! Most high school students would not usually consider a career in the hotel industry, (or even know of the possible jobs!) however, there are so many great avenues to go down for anyone interested in working in hospitality.
I recently sat down with Conference and Events Coordinator, Celia, who has seen her time at the hotel develop from being a casual Food and Beverage Attendant to her current full-time role in the span of a year. She chatted to us about her career ambitions, leaving high school and establishing her career goals post-study (as she is only 19 years old!).
Tell me about your decision to study further after high school, what course did you complete?
C: In years 11 and 12, I had a casual job in a café. I also did my Certificates II and III in Hospitality, and that got me into it, as I received a lot of experience in restaurants. Even after doing the Hospitality course, I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to do when I finished. My plan was to work during a gap year, but I was suggested Kenvale College in Randwick by a friend, who gave me their flyer.
It was either go to Sydney and do a Diploma of Hospitality or join the army, so they’re two very different things. My mum was a large influence in going to Sydney, because she didn’t want me going into the army [laughs]. I completed a Diploma of Hospitality Management…which is one year in duration. Most students here [at Radisson Blu] are completing the Advanced Diploma which is two years in length.
How did you and the other students get your jobs here at Radisson Blu Plaza Sydney?
C: At the beginning of last year, Kenvale helped put our resume together, fixed them up and sent it out to their partners, which are hotels and businesses, and the Kenvale students who are here at Radisson now, were selected. They set up our interviews and whilst I was still in Melbourne, Radisson had called me up asking if I wanted to come in for an interview.
We scheduled an interview whilst I was moving to Sydney and I drove up on the Wednesday, the day before my interview. By Sunday I was employed, and I started my first shift on the Monday, it all happened very quickly!
What is/was your role here and what do you do as part of it here at Radisson Blu?
C: The department I was in was Banquets and I was a Food and Beverage [F&B] Attendant. Then I moved into the bar, in-room dining and breakfast. I got to rotate areas, which was a good experience. This meant I could be a lot more flexible, so I could work if they needed me elsewhere.
Luck was on my side, being able to get the role of Conference and Events [C&E] Coordinator when the job was suddenly vacant. I got my current role due to my experience as an F&B Attendant, even in such a short time. I hadn’t really thought about it before, but a manager called me about potentially making the move into a C&E role. It happened so fast, as soon as I came back to work, I had an interview and I got the job!
What is your favourite part about working at Radisson Blu, what have you learnt?
C: I was able to work at Radisson Blu for the duration of my studies, which was great being able to do both [concurrently]. Working here helped so much… I could apply what I was learning at work and for me especially, I’m a hands-on person, so studying is great, but it doesn’t sink in until I actually do it.
I’ve learnt skills from each department, like efficiency… and gained relationships with management, which has made me confident. [Also] dealing with challenging customers and still knowing how to remain professional.
[I think] I’d love to try Front Desk or Reservations if I could. For me it’s about learning and new experiences, knowledge, or even if it’s something you don’t necessarily want to do for the future, it’s good to get that knowledge and understanding of other people’s roles. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for me now!
What is your career goal or ambitions for the near future?
C: I found that Food and Beverage was a really great experience for me as well as getting this experience in Sales and Marketing, the “back end” as I see it. I now have an insight to both areas of booking in events and planning and executing them. I am grateful for the experience as it has taught me that I really want to work front of house in a managerial position that’s more operationally based. Working at the desk is not for me… so I have now found my strongpoint and that’s what I’m now leaning towards.
There are many roles and different departments to be involved with at Radisson Blu. Personal development and growth is there for those who want to gain more experience and develop a career in hospitality. From concierge to front desk staff, to food and beverage attendant to conference and event coordinator; there truly is something for everyone in hospitality.
In summary, the more people who know about potential careers in the hotel industry, the better! I for one never would have thought I’d end up working for a hotel, with a background only in fast food and retail! The opportunities are endless, I could even go from the office here in Sydney to the corporate office in Singapore if I were to work toward it!
The Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Sydney often hosts work placement to students, as well as their annual intake of Kenvale College Randwick students for the Food and Beverage department. The hotel regards education and experience as important and thus enjoys providing these experiences for students and tertiary students alike to receive practical and “on-the-job” training and experience that can be applied throughout the industry.
(By Emma Hedges)