Hospitality and Beyond; Catarina’s experience at the Marriott

thumbnail_2016-07-28-PHOTO-00000028In partnership with Insignare, hospitality student Catarina Rodrigues from Portugal took part in a 9 week work placement at The Glasgow Marriott Hotel . During this period,  Catarina encountered new and friendly people from around the world, improved her skills and passion for the English language, and it put her on track to achieve her dream.

Working in the leisure centre and through different areas of the housekeeping department at the Marriott, Catarina not only built on her existing training in the hospitality sector, but significantly improved her English language skills and self confidence. During her time in Scotland, Catarina made good use of the Online Erasmus Plus Language course, practising daily to improve her skills from grade A1 to B1 in just 2 months. ” Now I feel my English is very good” she explained, “while I might need to ask a customer to slow down,  after that then I can really understand”. She has since made plans to stay with her uncle who lives in England after she finishes school, and alongside her tourism course she hopes to “do an English course for a year” to further improve. Initially, she didn’t see the importance of English, explaining how “at school I had already learnt to speak French,” and “I had thought that French was enough.” However, since improving her English, and from her experience working and living in Scotland, “now I can see that English is the universal language.” This new appreciation for the English language will help her to fulfil her lifelong dream of becoming a flight attendant. Using all three languages that she now has, she can achieve this.

thumbnail_2016-07-28-PHOTO-00000029Host-employer Claire Fisher was also very pleased with the work placement. She described Catarina as “really hardworking, with just the right attitude for a hospitality placement.” The internship also offered “good experience for our mentors here at the Marriott,” as well as providing Catarina with work experience to help her with her future career.  Over the 9 week placement, Claire found Catarina to “integrate extremely well into our team.” Through Catarina’s “keenness to work,” and such teamwork, the placement “ran very smoothly”.
Catarina also developed greater independence through her work at the Marriott hotel. “Being in the leisure centre gave me more independence to answer questions on my own, and the housekeeping was really good for me.” The work placement taught her to use greater initiative, and to “get on with things!”  This growth in confidence was helped she explained, by the friendliness of the Glaswegian people. Catarina emphasised how “people were so nice, making everything so much more enjoyable and easy to learn.” Her work placement has enabled her to feel comfortable asking passersby in the street for advice or help, which “doesn’t happen in Portugal. In fact, if you ask for directions, sometimes they will even show you the way themselves!” As well as the people, Catarina found Scotland to be “a very beautiful country; on the same day we could have all four of the seasons, and the monuments are beautiful. They are also free, which makes them even better!”

Highlights of Catarina’s internship include living with her host family, who she described as “the best host family there is”, “working with great people”, significantly improving her English, and developing her skills in hospitality.  For Catarina, “the experience has changed my life; I’ve learnt to work with different people, be more organised, more mature, and to solve my problems alone using my initiative”.