Emma Crowhurst: Fancy a career in the hospitality industry?

Wivenhoe House, next to the University of Essex

Wivenhoe House, next to the University of Essex - Credit: Archant

Emma Crowhurst, chef, writer, cookery teacher

There is a fabulous hotel just over the border into Essex, where all is not as it first appears. Wivenhoe House, close to the University of Essex, is part of an extraordinary concept of learning. Once painted by Constable, the 18th century country house re-opened as a luxury hotel and hotel school in 2012.

This is the first hotel school of its kind in the UK, where students learn and work alongside hospitality professionals – helping to run a real-life, AA-recognised luxury country house hotel.

The Edge Hotel School enables students to combine a fantastic breadth and depth of hands-on experience with a fast track to a respected degree in hotel management. As part of a close-knit team serving actual paying guests, they also enjoy all the advantages of university campus life, with access to student facilities and accommodation.

By equipping the students from the outset with practical management skills as well as academic theory, the course aims to get them started in their career as soon as possible.

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A two-year, intensive programme that reflects the realities of life in the hospitality industry, it is designed to make them more employable and better prepared for a job in hotel management.

With three intakes of students each year the professionals have their work cut out. Students are assessed and gently encouraged to take on more responsibility. The kitchen is run by talented professional chefs and food is of a very high standard.

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Rosie, aged 24, in the second year of her course, tells me how she found her way to the hotel school: “After leaving school my initial career goal was to work in food retail but, from the first moment of landing a job in a restaurant, I discovered this was my passion and looked for a career in the hospitality industry.

“I soon realised that without sufficient qualifications and training I wouldn’t be able to achieve my career aspiration of becoming a restaurant manager. I found out about Edge Hotel School and was lucky enough to gain a £3,000 scholarship from major food service provider BaxterStorey. In my degree course so far I have gained a greater insight into the hospitality industry and am determined to achieve my goal.”

Rosie hails from Manchester and eventually hopes to return to work there someday. First she’d like to work in some of the best hotels in London.

The connections afforded to the students at The Edge Hotel School should allow them to realise their dreams. A good career in hospitality could see them working all over the world.

I will look forward to seeing the class of 2014 graduate with honours and I’ll be going back to enjoy the fruits of their labour.

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