Just eight months into their apprenticeship programmes at London’s InterContinental O2 Hotel, former London South East Colleges’ hospitality students Billy Bingham and Emily Scothern are making a huge impression on their colleagues and managers as well as guests. Both have been receiving rave reviews on TripAdvisor - with heaps of praise for the professional service they have been providing since starting their jobs back in February.
In such a short space of time they have their managers discussing further opportunities for the pair when they reach the end of their apprenticeships next Autumn, and possible promotion options too.
Billy, 18, from Sidcup and Emily, 18, from Bromley studied professional cookery, as well as front-of-house and restaurant management as part of their extensive training at the College’s student-led BR6 Restaurant and Bakehouse in Orpington. Now, with their feet firmly under the table in the hotel’s food and beverage department, both apprentices are making rapid progress towards the next steps in their careers with Billy set to move into the fine dining restaurant by the end of the year.
Billy said: “So far, so good - the transition from College to working full-time in such prestigious surroundings hasn’t been quite the mountain climb I thought it was going to be. We were given such a warm welcome when we arrived and taken under the wings of our mentors. We are well supported and the special training has already started paying-off. The College gave us strong foundations and acclimatised us ready for the very hustle-bustle world of food and beverage services. I’m enjoying it immensely.”
Emily said: “It feels like we belong to a very close and supportive family here. From day one, everybody helped us settle in and did their best to guide us. Not once were we left to fend for ourselves and were given good solid instructions about what our roles and functions would be. Obviously, you really grow in a workplace and get better and better as you progress. I’m glad to say that we get listened to as well. We are given the opportunity to give feedback and opinions about any aspect of our service at regular monthly team forums and best of all, we are treated with respect and recognised for the good work we do. Hopefully, at the end of my apprenticeship, I’ll be looking to make a team leader role should an opportunity arise by then.”
Chris Rooney is the Talent and Culture Manager at the InterContinental O2 and heads their Human Resources team. He is delighted with Billy and Emily since they joined and is eager to roll out the apprenticeship programme and partnership with London South East Colleges into next year and beyond. Chris said: “The programme has been a big success and it’s evident that it is working well for everyone. Both Billy and Emily are well regarded for their excellent timekeeping; they are pro-active, extremely well turned-out and professional. I’m very impressed with their confidence and the way they engage with our guests. They are superb ambassadors.
“The hotel industry, especially at the very high-end, is not the easiest sector to work in and all staff are expected to think on their feet and be at least three steps ahead of their customers during every shift. It is very hard work and can be extremely tiring. Saying that, it can also be very satisfying and comes with good rewards for getting it right. I’m very confident that both Billy and Emily will succeed in this business and go far.”
In the new year, the InterContinental will be on the lookout for two more apprentices from the College and the search will begin by providing our new cohort of students with a tour of the hotel complex, a skills day and mock-interview practice session.