THREE graduates from the Sandals Resorts International Overseas Internship Programme in Saint Lucia have been making waves in Antigua, where they are working hard at carving out an exciting career in the hospitality sector.
Yohan Henry, Teres Edwards and Michaela Edwards are all beneficiaries of the programme, a unique, cutting-edge collaboration between Sandals and the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College, and they are delighted to be reaping the benefits of the doors Sandals has opened for them through its training.
The programme offers young Saint Lucians the opportunity to experience hands-on training in tourism and hospitality while visiting and living in another country for six months and to participate in an apprenticeship programme at a Sandals resort outside of Saint Lucia.
The young Saint Lucian professionals are urging their peers to value the training opportunities, which ultimately puts them in better stead to pursue their dreams and give them the competitive advantage for placement within the industry.
Many young men and women have benefitted in Saint Lucia alone since the inception of the programme in 2013. Students who are selected to participate in the programme apply through the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College while they are undergoing studies in tourism and hospitality programmes.
Lecturer and Head of Department, DiodataPreville, says that “the programme is extremely successful. We just had one of the success stories who came by the College for a visit. He did his internship at Sandals in the Bahamas and they kept him on. Now he has migrated into the cruise industry. So we know that the programme works and has many benefits for the students.”
Yohan Henry was keen to talk about his experience: “I have been having a splendid time here at Sandals Grande Antigua. The staff and management have been nothing but welcoming and treated me with warmth. Currently, I am training in the kitchen and I am enjoying every aspect from ‘prep’ and ‘MiseEn Place’ to execution and presentation. I am looking forward to the other departments and what the internship programme has in store for me.”
Babonneau resident, 19-year old TeresEdwards, also complimented the management and staff, saying she was happy to work alongside a culturally diverse team. While she admits the first few weeks were bit a rocky, she has settled down and has since been exposed to both the management and line staff of the ‘Bars’ department.
“It’s wonderful to experience firsthand how Sandals gives back to Caribbean students through this internship programme. The internship has opened my eyes to many different ways of doing things, whether it is how management operates or how a drink is being presented to a guest, and never forgetting to uphold the highest standards as Sandals does so effortlessly, with great staff and management personnel.”
Michaela Edwards, who hails from Entrepot, has also been excited to share her thoughts about her internship: “The experience has been truly amazing, especially training with a world renowned brand such as Sandals, which employs only the best. We have been greeted with nothing but warm hugs, smiles, love and care by both management and line staff from day one. It’s the 2nd month here and still I receive that same amazing treatment by people who go out of their way to make being away from home and family less tough.”
Michaela has big plans on returning to Saint Lucia. “When I go back home, my first action is to get a job. Hopefully I will get the chance to continue with Sandals, the company that has made me feel like family from just an internship. I want to save up for school and then to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in Hotel Management. Maybe later I might consider my PhD …I love the industry and I believe it can be much bigger. I want to be one of the minds that help in the evolution of tourism not just in Saint Lucia, but in our CARICOM countries, and it all started right here with Sandals.”
Regional Group Manager HR and Training (Eastern Caribbean), Ryan Matthew, has been personally involved in the recruitment of students for this programme. He speaks directly to the energy that he sees when he goes to visit the campus. “The students that I meet are very keen on training. They want all of the exposure that they can get. And because they know the strength of the Sandals brand, they want to do the Internship at Sandals Resorts, whether local or regional.”
Matthew is presently recruiting for the next batch of interns, as the next programme commences in July of 2017