The expert panel
Our expert panel comprises representatives from the Hotel and Catering Training Company (HCTC), MaydayExec, Bartlett Mitchell, Learnpurple, Conran and Portfolio International.
The question I am a 20-year-old international hospitality management student at Manchester Metropolitan University. Around my studies, I work at a four-star hotel in Liverpool. Should I ditch my studies in favour of full-time job experience, or finish the course?
Completing your studies would appear to be the most sensible option. It is important to gain experience within the industry alongside your studies, as it offers a balance of practical and theoretical knowledge. It will impress your future employers that you have fully completed your degree, as opposed to leaving your studies halfway through.
You could also speak to your manager about your developmental needs and gain experience in other departments. It may be beneficial, while talking to your line manager, to ask for a formal appraisal to clarify where your skills fall short, and to develop a personal development plan to ensure you are exposed to the experiences required. Explore the possibility of shadowing an area manager to make you more marketable when looking for roles after completion of your course.
Ian Horrox, human resources director, Conran Restaurants
If you have the energy to carry you through, then finish your college course and do as much work outside of it as you can - I had three jobs all the way through my studies.
It might be easier to juggle if you find something for term-time, which is closer to where you are studying, and keep positive communications open with the Liverpool hotel so you can return during the holidays. You will have the best of both worlds that way, gaining experience and stacking up great options for the future.
You'll also be proving that you are serious about doing well and are dedicated, and working while studying is a lot of fun and a much cheaper way to socialise. I'd be surprised if any employer failed to be impressed by someone who had completed university and worked hard throughout, so be patient and finish your course.
Jane Sunley, managing director, LearnPurple
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