The Department of Hospitality and Tourism in the Faculty of Management Sciences at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) recently gathered in a joyous occasion to bid farewell to 30 second-year Hospitality and Catering Management students, who will be jetting off to the USA for a four-month work experience opportunity on Monday, 27 November 2023.
It is a first in the history of the DUT Hotel School where 30 students will be jetting off as a pre-Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) activity to experience and work in leading and reputable hospitality organisations in the USA. This is a four-month contract, starting in December 2023 and ending in March 2024.
The Hospitality and Tourism Management Senior Lecturer and Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) Practitioner, Mr Jaya Naidoo, engaged with the US based company Awesome Travel, to assist Hospitality and Catering Management students to secure work experience in leading hospitality organisations in the USA. The engagement led to an in-person presentation where students interacted on a personal level with the Director and co-founder of Awesome Travel, Mr Glen Davidson.
On average, students will earn approximately $15 to $17 per hour. The students will be accommodated in two bedroomed apartments and they are expected to share with other international students, with the cost borne by the host employer. Students will also be afforded free travel from their apartment to work and vice-versa. Besides the hospitality experience, students will become independent and experience cultural diversity.
Naidoo explained that the selection did not involve looking at students’ academic performance or results. “There were no selection criteria, we addressed the entire second year Catering and Hospitality Management class. A presentation was delivered to them which followed by a question-and-answer session. All those that were interested subscribed to the programme and were accepted. “I am optimistic that this pre-WIL experience will give them a competitive edge when commencing WIL in July 2024. A programme will be put in place to bridge the gap for those students that were not able to embark on this journey,” he stressed.
In reaction to the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, students, Sandile Ngobese (22) from Nquthu in KwaZulu-Natal and Nikeisha Pillay (22) from Phoenix said their parents have showed great support going as far as putting them into their prayers.
“Firstly, I would like to say I’m very excited about the journey ahead because we will explore the world and get to obtain international industry experience. My parents, especially my father did not believe me when II first told him the news. He is a conservative person and I understood that because no one in the village has ever travelled out of the country,” said Ngobese.
Dr Erasmus Mnguni, Hospitality and Tourism Head of Department (HOD) at DUT expressed how pleased he was when the departmental WIL practitioner, Mr Jaya Naidoo, who had informed him that their students will be getting a life-changing opportunity to travel abroad. “I have no shadow of doubt that the knowledge and skills they will acquire in America will shape their future and instil a sense of hope and belief in their chosen career. All I can say is well done to all of them and all the best,” said Mnguni.
Both Naidoo and Mr Davidson from Awesome Travel will monitor the students’ performance with regular engagements with the host employers. They are confident that these students will excel and become ambassadors of this programme to future students.
Pictured: Hospitality and Catering students with Mr Jaya Naidoo, the Hospitality and tourism unit HOD, Mr Erasmus Mnguni and Mr Glen Davidson from Awesome Travel.