Students gain hands-on work experience

Beeko Smith is one young man who doesn’t intend to put his career plans on the back burner.

The would-be chef-musician has plans for his future and he has been putting them into practice with the help of his school’s careers counsellor and staff at the Westin Casuarina Resort and Spa.

Beeko is one of four pupils from John Gray High School who have been undertaking a work experience programme at the Westin. His duties have involved working alongside the chefs in the kitchen preparing food for the guests.

But while domestic science is one of Beeko’s favourite school subjects as well as being a pastime at home, he doesn’t intend to leave it there. He is also a musician and plays the bass guitar in the John Gray school band.

‘My ambition is to run my own restaurant, cooking in the kitchen and then later playing in the band to entertain the guests,’ said 16-year-old Beeko.

Beeko was accompanied at the Westin by fellow pupils Jesanna Mencia, Liliana Swaby and Jessy Alvarado.

Jessy busied herself in the hotel’s spa, learning all about making the body beautiful with manicures, pedicures, facials and massage while Liliana was in the restaurant serving the guests at breakfast and lunch.

Meanwhile, Jesanna was answering guests’ queries about the hotel and the island as an assistant concierge.

‘The work has been very interesting,’ said Jesanna. ‘You learn what to say to different people in certain situations and how to say it so as to inform them correctly and politely.

‘I have not encountered too many problems and I have had a lot of help from the staff at the Westin.’

Positive work ethic

The Westin’s Human Resources manager Morvan Bodden, who helped co-ordinate the work experience programme along with John Gray Careers Counsellor Margaret Jackson, said: ‘The pupils have all been very positive and they have always been on time for work which is always good to see.

‘They always have happy, smiling faces and haven’t been hiding away in corners.’

Restaurant manager Darren Thorpe added: ‘It’s been amazing to see how quickly they have picked things up.

‘They are very enthusiastic – even when they have been getting up at the crack of dawn to come and serve breakfast here at 7am in the morning. It’s refreshing to see that sort of attitude.’

The resort caters to students from other schools as well as the university.

‘Some have progressed to come and work part-time at the hotel and we have several former pupils that have come on staff,’ said Ms Bodden.

One such former John Gray pupil is 19-year-old Racquel Miller, who is assistant to the general manager at the Westin.

The four pupils at the Westin were just one group from around 250 Year 11 students on work experience from John Gray.

They are experiencing the workplace in all walks of life, ranging from hotels and tourism through to finance, retail, public services, government and the media.

Altogether 625 Year 10, 11 and 12 pupils have been involved in work experience this year from John Gray.

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