Twenty-five years and counting for real-world work experience partnership Twenty-five years and counting for real-world work experience partnership

Forty St Rita’s students moved out of their comfort zones and the classroom recently when they gained real-world work experience at a luxury Noosa hotel. 

The 2021 Live and Learn Program marks 25 years of an invaluable partnership between St Rita’s College and Sofitel Noosa Pacific Resort.

The program sees Year 11 Diploma of Business and Hospitality students and staff reside at the hotel for three days and work alongside Sofitel staff in multiple facets of the industry.

From concierge to marketing and events, executive chef to finance manager, housekeeper and engineer to General Manager, students encounter first-hand the multiple careers available to them within hospitality and business sectors.

St Rita’s College Head of Pathways and Careers, Mrs Melanie Sax-Wood, said the benefits of the program were countless.

“The Sofitel project is an ideal environment in which we have the opportunity to see the girls blossom and experience success,” Mrs Sax-Wood said.

“The staff are welcoming, genuinely interested in what they can offer the girls and in return the girls feel comfortable enough to ask questions and learn much more about their experiences, so it’s a two-way street.

“The experience also becomes a very useful teaching resource back in the classroom.”

Sofitel Noosa Pacific General Manager, Mark Wilkinson, said the milestone was certainly something to celebrate.

“After the year that was, it was very pleasing to have some familiarity back in the resort; the girls were raring to go and had so many questions about the impacts of COVID-19 and the impact it had on guest behaviours,” Mr Wilkinson said.

“2021 also saw our first masterclass by marketing professional Grant Lewers, educating the students about social media within the Tourism and Hospitality sectors, an addition that will continue into future programs.

“We also had the pleasure of four past students from the College work at the resort over the Christmas holiday period, which was such a delight.”

Year 11 student Abbey Mitchell said it was an amazing experience to gain knowledge from staff in multiple hotel sectors.

“I really enjoyed talking to and meeting with all the staff, being able to ask questions and gain knowledge about anything to do with the job at hand, from working directly with the Finance Manager to experiencing how the hotel executes menu engineering,” Abbey said. 

“I will definitely carry the multi-tasking skills I learnt, and the knowledge of what goes on behind the scenes on the business side of a 5-star hotel, into the future.”