Get ahead in Hospitality - Michelle Kerr
Michelle started college as a mature student, with no hospitality experience. Not only did she complete her HND Hospitality, but she managed to pick up a Student of the Year award along the way. She's now an Intern with us, helping to manage one of our busy restaurants and supporting students on their learning journeys. Here's her story...
"I worked in care for 12 years and just before coming to college I was recovering from a stroke.
Having a stroke at such a young age really makes you evaluate things. I wanted to be a be a positive role model for my kids and do something that made me happy. I had always loved cooking and baking, so I decided I wanted to be a Chef.
Applying for a course in hospitality was a massive change and out of my comfort zone. I had many concerns - could I manage the workload? What about childcare? Also, being a mature student, I wondered if my age would hold me back.
I had no hospitality or kitchen experience other than preparing meals at home for the family but I applied for Professional Cookery Level 5 and my journey started there.
My college experience
During my time at college I learned so much and made the most of every opportunity offered to me. I was involved in many special events from Graduations to Burns Suppers. I served at the Scottish Parliament and had the pleasure of working at Turnberry. I was chosen to go on a learning journey to Ireland. It was an amazing experience - I gained so much from it and made some great contacts. I took part in the Nestle Toque d’Or competitions and was very privileged to receive a scholarship to visit the prestigious Lausanne Hotel School of Catering in Switzerland.
Completing my HNC and HND in Hospitality is more than I ever expected to have achieve, so I’m rather proud of myself! There were definitely times when I thought ‘I can’t do this’ – juggling family, work and college, but I did it.
A huge highlight for me was being selected as Student of the Year for my HND – it was amazing! It’s such a great feeling knowing that someone thinks your good enough, especially when you have worked so hard to achieve what you’ve achieved. It was wonderful to be acknowledged and made the struggles worthwhile.
What I'm doing now
I’m currently working as an Intern managing the College’s Westerly restaurant. As I started college with no previous experience in hospitality, it’s been a great opportunity for me. I’ve been able to put the theory I learned into practice and I’ve developed the skills I need to progress further.
I meet so many new people – this is probably what I enjoy most about hospitality. The restaurants have a great customer base, and these customers become friends. I also get to support students and share my experiences with them - I’m so lucky to be doing what I’m doing, I love it!
I use the many of the skills I learned on a daily basis - knife skills, kitchen skills, food preparation and cooking, silver service, barista and bar training. I’ve learned how to run a business - finances, staffing, legislation, marketing, as well as setting targets and how to achieve them. My organisational and motivational skills have improved too, and I’ve developed the supervisory, management and leadership skills to lead staff confidently and efficiently.
Ayrshire College is great and it’s the staff that make it so. They supported me throughout my journey, through my highs and my lows, and if it wasn’t for their encouragement and guidance I wouldn’t be where I am today. Now the plan is to work hard, climb the career ladder and hopefully one day own my own business."
If you'd like to pursue a career in Hospitality, follow in Michelle's footsteps and start here...