Alumni of the Hotel School at the Central University of Technology, Free State (CUT) come highly recommended for employment in the hospitality industry globally.
These students are headhunted for careers such as banqueting managers, hoteliers, guesthouse managers, restaurant managers, chefs, waiters, bar tenders and event managers. Bloemfontein Courant spoke to some of the former Hotel School students to hear what their experience was like at CUT.
Gustav Pieterse, who completed an N.Dip Hospitality Management (3-year diploma), followed by an additional year to complete a B.Tech Hospitality Management (4-year degree), said he is currently a hotelier (hotel manager) at The Saxon Hotel, Villas and Spa, a 5-star premium establishment in Johannesburg.
According to Pieterse the Hotel School at CUT is a faculty with its own identity. “We were one of the few faculties that were required to wear uniform on a daily basis, and for all classes. This already instilled in me, and others, a sense of belonging and standing out from the crowd. It was a faculty of pride, expertise, quality and superior education.”
He added that having this foundation and academic experience set the tone for what was to become an extremely fruitful, highly productive and, at times, daunting yet focused outcome based learning experience.
“I was challenged daily by my lecturers to be an active listener and thinker. We were encouraged to do more than the rest, in order to be the best. Every action in our training environment was compared to the hospitality expectations in the finest 5-star establishments. We were held to a higher standard, before we even knew what that really meant.”
Another alumnus, Diteboho Banda, who completed her B.Tech Hospitality Management qualification, explained that she had an amazing time at CUT because the campus is very intimate, just the way she prefers it to be.
“There were adequate resources at my disposal, enabling me to better my competency and proficiency in hospitality management. I had the privilege to engage with my peers within the same academic discipline. The reciprocal engagement between the different cultures, norms and beliefs of my peers were met with appreciation and respect.”
Banda said as an alumnus of the Hotel School at CUT, she has been thoroughly prepared for the real world of work. “It is a great privilege. You do not appreciate it until you have experienced other institutions. It has prepared me very well for the real world. It also brings great pride to have graduated from an institution that is recognised globally and offers ongoing support to students, even after you have completed your studies.”
Banda is currently self-employed, managing and running her own wine distribution business (Kaho704), as well as a food delivery service (Nala Cuisine).
Caitlin Fredericks, who studied a Diploma in Hotel Management and Hospitality said that her experience at CUT was one of the most enriching and rewarding experiences of her life.
“I feel privileged to have been given the opportunity to complete my qualification at CUT. The Hotel School is renowned for producing skilled employees who are ready for the workplace. Through the Work Integrated Learning programme (WIL) at CUT I was able to hone my skills, which improved my chances of landing a job.
“I could include this in my CV. In fact, when I was interviewed for my current position in Florida in the USA, one of the interviewers noticed that I completed one of my WIL placements at Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge. She commented that she visited the lodge and was highly impressed with the establishment as well as the staff members. I think that was the turning point in my interview, because I was able to elaborate on my work experience at Sabi Sabi as well as how it helped to prepare me for my future. In this way, CUT has contributed significantly towards the advancement of my career.”
Fredericks said she is very proud to be called an alumnus of the Hotel School at CUT. She is currently working as a professional server at Woodfield Country Club. In the next two months she will be moving up north to the Long Island Sebonack Country Club.