Leicester College Blog

Students ‘meet the exes’ at alumni event


By Nicky Randall, Programme Area Manager, Hospitality and Food at Leicester College

We acknowledge the hurdles that the current generations of students face in terms of entering the workforce after they complete their courses. It isn’t easy walking into a job – they often have to fill in lots of forms and not all students are highly academic (some may be more creative thinkers!).

This means that any guidance received to help them with this particular challenge is truly invaluable.

Consequently, we were thinking about how to support our students and came up with the concept of a ‘Meet the Exes’ alumni event where we could hear, first-hand, the experiences of past Hospitality and Catering students and the world of employment.

An expert panel

Our lecturers picked from some former students from our alumni cohort who’ve all gone on to great achievements within the hospitality and catering sector to make up the speaker panel. They were unanimously able to come along and help us out.

The speaker panel included:

  • Amrik Singh – Leicester Racecourse
  • Chris Palmer – Deli@58
  • Jake Toone - Miller and Carter
  • Jack Jarman – Wilson Vale
  • Jack Newbold – No.23 Uppingham
  • Bob Weston – Six by Nico
  • Mimi Colyer – Ascoughs, Market Harborough
  • Will Leet – Bakery Development Technologist at David Wood Foods
  • Sean Barkes – Forwards Restaurant
  • Sian Keogh – Belmont Hotel
  • Samson Vas – Sixes Social Cricket
  • Peyton Troop - Uppingham School
  • Jason Smith – Ashby Trip Sutton Cheney
  • Lewis Edward Martin - Winstanley House

The event involved an open Q&A session, attended by around 80 students, which I had the pleasure of moderating. The former students shared insights, based on their experiences, challenges and successes in the workplace, and offered invaluable advice of what you can expect from the hospitality industry.

It really could not have gone better. Our speakers were independently telling students what lecturers say to them every day, such as ‘if you want a job to support a mortgage and a family in your life, you need Maths and English qualifications’.

They asserted how resilience is important, what real life expectations the students should have, what skills are required to succeed and how to ensure that these skills are transferable.

It was inspiring for the students to see what they can achieve. The experts advised what to do next – with mock interviews, planning, etc – and that the students need to put themselves out there. It was all valuable experience and guidance, focused on their individual growth and progression.

A pathway to a career

We received good feedback from our speakers; they all got something out of it. As a team, we’re really proud of all that they’ve achieved and the people that they’ve become. We now want the same for all of our current and future students!

Although he referred to himself as the ‘class clown’, Jake Toone, who now works for Miller & Carter, the steakhouse experts, admitted that he “wouldn’t be where I am without the work of the tutors”.

One of our other former students, William Leet, who is now Senior Bakery Development Technologist at David Wood Foods, summed up the ‘experts’ view when he said: “This was something I felt very proud to take part in, going back to college, but this time as an industry expert to help inspire and pass on knowledge to the future of the food industry. Leicester College will always have a special place in my heart as it is where the path for my baking career began.”

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