Khairah Yahiya – BSc (Hons) Tourism and Hospitality Management graduate

Current employer: Hotel N°5

Current job title: Communication Coordinator

Current lcation: Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

“My advice to future tourism and hospitality graduates is to start thinking about your desired career and to create a pathway in order to reach your goal whilst studying… The more research and investigation you do, the more it sates your curiosity. Make a wise decision when selecting a topic for an assignment and more importantly for a dissertation, the 9,000 word project will be your ‘best friend’ on your final year and, trust me, it will be very useful for future reference.”

Tell us about your career path since graduation.

As soon as my academic term ended in May 2015, I flew back to Malaysia and started working as a receptionist in a three star, 78 room, apartment hotel. In my opinion, for a hospitality graduate, working in the front office is the best way to get insights of hotel operations. However, not long before my graduation ceremony in September 2015, I received another offer from a newly opened 117 room business hotel. I gladly accepted the opportunity and today I am working as a communications coordinator.

What is the most difficult thing which you have faced in your career?

There are a great many career opportunities available to a tourism and hospitality management graduate. We have the opportunity to enter any sector of industry according to our interests. All of the tourism and hospitality industry may seem similar, but there are so many different career paths. I therefore had the difficulty of choosing the right industry. I believe that it is important to test the waters first. A dream job will not always fall easily into your lap: you have to find it and then career happiness will follow.

What is the best, most exciting or fun thing that you have done in your career?

As a communications coordinator my task is to assist the implementation of sales and communications, working behind the scenes to make sure the hotel is presented in the best way possible to guests. Luckily for me, my dissertation topic was highly related to my role, which was to investigate the customer attraction strategies in a hotel. Because of my research, I was able to interview some amazing hotel managers in London which allowed me to get an insight into the strategies used in hotels. The information I received as a result of my investigation continues to inform my current job role.

What, if anything, would you do differently if you could?

Unfortunately, I did not take the opportunity to go on a placement year. If I could return to my undergraduate degree, I would definitely undertake a work placement. As an international student it is not always that easy to apply to a graduate scheme or find a permanent job in the UK. Visa sponsorship is a huge obstacle. Hence why the placement was the only way I could have gained experience working in the UK.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get in to the same line of work?

My advice to future tourism and hospitality graduates is to start thinking about your desired career and to create a pathway in order to reach your goal whilst studying. The dissertation and project assignments provided during your studies are the best way to get in-depth information on your chosen field. The more research and investigation you do, the more it sates your curiosity. Make a wise decision when selecting a topic for an assignment and more importantly for a dissertation, the 9,000 word project will be your ‘best friend’ on your final year and, trust me, it will be very useful for future reference.

What is your favourite memory of studying at Plymouth?

My most favourite memory is being able to meet a great variety of people from all over the world. Compared to other cities in the UK, Plymouth is definitely one of the friendliest cities I have been to. I have never regretted choosing English for global communication as my optional module on my final year, because I had the privilege to make friends with multicultural students. We shared many thoughts, perspectives and experiences, which enhanced my knowledge of other cultures. This has undeniably broadened my view of life. I will absolutely recommend international students to join this class.