Students take over Hellesdon hotel

Just Regional
Mar 1, 2013 3 mins read

Hospitality students gained some real hands-on experience in February when they “took over” Holiday Inn Norwich-North for two days. The 80 City College Norwich students were involved in all aspects of running the hotel, from the reception, housekeeping and kitchens, to two students who took on the general manager position.

“We employ 180 people in 55 different job roles, and it gives the students the opportunity to see all the different roles,” said general manager Devin Grosse. “They really are thrown in at the deep end with real experiences; the students who shadowed me were involved in a deal worth tens of thousands of pounds.”

The combination of academic study and actual experience is very attractive to employers and Holiday Inn Norwich is keen to support its potential future workforce.

“It’s great to get people interested in the industry, which is growing despite the current economic climate,” said Mr Grosse. “They’ve done a really good job and its good fun for everyone, including our staff.”

The students each worked an eight-hour shift over the two days, which culminated in a charity dinner for 200 guests on Wednesday, February 27.

From offering arrival drinks and serving the food to cooking the three-course meal, the students did a fantastic job and the evening went without a hitch.

The evening was rounded off with a charity auction and raffle, which together with the ticket price raised £4,000 in aid of Hospitality in Action and the City College Norwich Student Opportunity Fund.

The college and hotel have a strong partnership and this was the fourth year that the hotel take over has taken place.

“This event is invaluable to the students, who often start their shift thinking they’re interested in one area and then change their minds when they see the other roles,” said Caron Goreham, a hospitality lecturer at City College Norwich. “You can’t set up these kinds of situations, they need to be real. We really couldn’t ask for a better experience for the students.”

And the event also got the thumbs up from the students, who were happy to get stuck in and find out what working in a hotel is really like.

Level 3 hospitality students Melissa Blackburn and Bettina Bajai, both 18, started work at 1pm on the day of the charity dinner and were part of the team involved in setting up the empty Lancaster Suite ready for the 200 guests.

“It’s been a good experience and opened my mind to the different possibilities,” said Bettina, with Melissa adding that the staff were very helpful in showing them how to set up the tables and serve the food.

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