People walking through Hyde Park last week would have been forgiven for doing a double take if they saw a group of waiters racing past the bandstand with one hand held behind their backs while balancing cups of water on a tray with the other. But for those in the know, this race was part of National Waiters Day, where students, waiters and businesses come together across different cities in the UK to learn about or promote the opportunities in the hospitality industry.
The day itself was started by Fred Sirieix, general manager at the London Hilton at Park Lane’s Michelin star restaurant Galvin at Windows (who is also well-loved for his role on the Channel4 programme ‘First Dates’). Now in its fourth year, the London event brings together students and waiters, and a number of businesses from Premier Inn to Bunzl Catering Supplies, to celebrate the industry and show that it is possible to have a successful and lucrative career within it, with Fred overseeing the students and waiters races and handing out prizes to the winners.
Even though the day is about networking and learning, sometimes people need a little help with getting conversations started. “What we’ve found in the past is that students can be quite shy, especially when they’re with their peers, about going up and talking to businesses,” says Margaret Raichura, careers manager at The Springboard Charity. She has found a way to combat this by creating a simple quiz for the students and jobseekers to complete about the businesses on the day. “The idea is to have an ice breaker to start a conversation,” she said.
Likewise it is important that businesses come with fun and interactive activities for students and jobseekers to take part in, especially as some of the attendees can be as young as 16 years-old. Having a fun race that was fronted by Fred helped to attract members of the industry, students and job seekers to the event where they were able to find out more about the different opportunities in the world of hospitality, and the different career routes within it.
Fred said that as the founder of National Waiters Day he was very pleased to lead this year’s celebrations. “It was a truly wonderful day that celebrated the ocean of career opportunities in hospitality, as well as the hard work of all front of house professionals. There has never been a more exciting time to both join and succeed in this very special industry,” he said, adding: “If you can dream it, you can do it.”
The Springboard Charity has already had positive feedback from teachers to say that students have started contacting employers about work experience. Businesses said they were impressed by the level of interest shown by the students and have already said they want to be involved again next year.
Photos courtesy of The Springboard Charity.