The 10-month program combined classroom studies as well as on-the-job training modules at hospitality and tourism businesses.
Of the 25 students who entered the program last September, 18 of them graduated. Given the demands of the course work, and of the hospitality industry in general, this seems a reasonable success rate.
Restaurateur Markus Mueri, one of the founders of the program, noted that the biggest challenge for the students was the transition from school to the reality of work.
“You have to be 10 minutes early, you have to be smiling and have a good attitude, and be able to work with people,” he noted.
For some, that was too much to ask. But almost three-quarters of the students who started the program proved they had what it takes, and many are already off on their next step toward a career in the hospitality industry, whether that is pursuit of further university degree in hospitality management or, as is the case with several of the graduate students, jobs in the industry.
All of this is good news for the Cayman Islands and its tourism industry, which desperately needs more bright and smiling Caymanian faces interacting with our visitors.
Although 18 young people might seem like a low number in the context of the number of unemployed Caymanians, it’s a positive step that addresses a labor need that will only continue to grow with the opening of new resort properties over the next five years. Hopefully, the School of Hospitality Studies will be able to realize its goal of attracting even more students for the program that starts next month.
Make no mistake; the hospitality industry isn’t for everyone. The work, and particularly the hours, can be demanding. But for the people who take the job seriously and who take pride in their work, the profession can be very rewarding in that they have the ability to put smiles on customers’ faces on a daily basis.
Unlike many other professions, the hospitality industry can offer a fast track to advancement for those with dedication, talent and ambition. Many who get into the business when young will eventually end up either in management or owning their own company.
However, there are many other bright and talented young Caymanians who have chosen career paths in other fields apart from the ultra-competitive law, accounting and banking professions. Work experience while studying might not be easy to come by in these other fields, which is why it’s important for local businesses to give young people meaningful internship opportunities.
Here at Pinnacle Media, we couldn’t be more pleased with the quality of our summer interns this year. One of them is Ashani Francis-Collins, whose byline in recent weeks has made regular appearances on the pages of the Compass.
Today is her last day on the job before she heads back to college, but she is most welcome to continue to work with us on holidays, school vacations, and ultimately in a full-time position following her graduation.
In fact, when we encounter young Caymanians such as Ashani who have shown the desire, ability and attitude to become a good journalist, they will always find the front door of the Compass open to them and a challenging, rewarding job waiting for them when they complete their studies.