|If full-time education is not for you, why not study part-time while working in the industry? MATTHEW CROWLEY HOLLAND (22) explains why the Trainee Management Development Programme (TMDP) at IT Tralee was the right option for him.
I decided not to go to college after I finished school. I didn’t know what I wanted to do so I didn’t want to pay for a course and not finish it. I began working in a local restaurant in Kenmare on wash-up, and later at Sheen Falls Lodge on breakfasts and in the bar, before I landed a waiting job with John Brennan [from RTE’s At Your Service show] in Dromquinna Manor.
It was John who encouraged me to do the Trainee Management Development Programme. After just a month working as a waiter he offered to sponsor me on the course. I was hesitant at first – I’d never commit to something that I didn’t plan to finish – but the practical aspect of the programme appealed to me.
The course is three years long and runs from January to January. Once a week you have an online class, then you spend the rest of the week in the hotel putting what you have learned into practice and working on reports and assignments.
At the end of the year you go back to college for two months and do your exams. One of the best things about this course is that you can earn while you study – you don’t have to be a poor student. It’s great for people who already work in the industry and who want to get qualifications. The classes are small, there are about 20 students in each year, so we’re all very close. We’re based all over the country but we’re in contact all the time.
We all motivate each other, which is really helpful. At the moment, I split my time between Dromquinna and Park Hotel Kenmare, which is the five star hotel that John runs with his brother, Francis. I get on very well with the head chef in Dromquinna, so he has taken me under his wing and I work part-time in the kitchen there, while in Park Hotel I work in accommodation. When you do the TMDP you get experience in all departments, which is great.
So far I’ve done the bar, restaurant, kitchen and now accommodation. The bar is my favourite. It’s good craic and the people are very friendly. In your final year you spend six months working as a duty manager which gives you a good insight into general management.
The tourism industry is a fantastic place to work, but it’s not for everyone. If you’re not a people person then there’s not much point in joining this business. But if you do like caring for people then you will love it. It brings me joy to look after people, and when you get praised for going that extra mile it makes all the hard work worthwhile.