The Internship Programme is an opportunity for vocational students to do work experience in another European country, strengthen their English skills and learn a little something about being on their own. Since 2012, ADC College has arranged work placements in London companies and Renard Resources - a staffing firm specialising in events and catering - is one of them.
Renard Resources has been in operation since 1996 and provide staffing solutions for both permanent and temporary roles in the restaurant business, such as waiters, bar staff, chefs and management personell. We reached out to Neil Preston, Training Director at Renard, to have a chat about his line of work and learn what students can expect from an internship at a staffing company. Neil has also made an interesting career journey of his own, starting in the kitchen washing dishes at 15. After graduating from Hotel School, he worked in a variety of places and eventually progressed into management. He has been with Renard Resources since June 2017.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
Having worked in catering for 25 years, my focus and passion has always been in this industry, it has helped me to travel the world, gain amazing experiences, work with well-known individuals and given me a thorough understanding that from dedicated hard work a lot can be achieved. With my passion for food and drink, I have greatly benefited from training and experience and often refer to this in my teaching of new recruits and management. Taking inspiration from my seniors, I hope my training enables individuals to progress in the industry, which is why I am happy to support ADC College with work placements.
Can you tell us something about your role at Renard and how you ended up there?
As Training Director, I manage the training of all front of house staff, including waiters and managers joining our company for temporary work. Prior to this, I was a client of Renard, working for a major contract caterer heading up the event operations for many prestigious venues and outdoor locations. I would regularly book in staff from Renard who would help me in the delivery of events - it provided me opportunity to join Renard.
Why have you decided to take on European students for work experience?
When I was at university, I worked in a variety of lavish locations and with big names in the industry. I have never forgotten my mentors in those early days, in fact I am still in touch with most of them! As a hospitality staffing company with training, Renard aims to nurture and develop talent, particularly for those new to the industry. So, when ADC College contacted me I was more than happy to offer work placements for students, which might help them later in their chosen career.
What kind of work do the students do at your company?
We assign all students with a mentor whom they shadow for the two-week period. In the first few days, we familiarise them with our office team, processes and train them on the systems we have in place. As they gain a better understanding and confidence we can delegate administrative responsibilities. Duties will include data handling, uploading information and in some cases assisting in the assessment of candidates during training.
What do you think the students gain from doing work experience in London?
When students join Renard Resources, they will gain a cultural first-hand experience of what it takes to work in a busy Central London office within the events and hospitality industry. This in turn can help improve English articulation and terminology. In addition, they will also gain vocational skills through much of the practical tasks we set relating to administration and day-to-day interaction. We hope that students feel part of the team, though it is a short period of time, whilst we ensure they receive the right level of support when taking on tasks.
In what way has it benefitted your organisation?
There is the obvious benefit that we gain assistance with administration workloads. It also helps us promote a positive culture within our company, especially with the office team as our staff engage with the students supporting them during their time with us. It also helps the morale of our new recruits during training as placement students interact with them during in the early stages of recruitment which helps demonstrate our diversity and promotes the opportunities we offer.
What makes a great intern? Do you have any examples?
We treat all work placements seriously, as though they were joining us on a permanent basis. The obvious things would be a good command of both verbal and written English, they must be well presented, conduct themselves in a friendly and professional manner and will be dedicated to working hard with us. All of which we look for in anyone we take on but for an intern to stand out, when interviewing on the phone, it is often how detailed or articulate they are when talking about their personal ambitions and career plans, as it helps me identify their personality and motivation to join us.
What are the most common obstacles in your line of work?
In staffing, particularly within the catering industry, there are many challenges we face on a daily or weekly basis. In general, it will always be the availability or lack of skilled staff when recruiting to tight deadlines to meet the demands of staff bookings. It is a scenario constantly faced in our sector, but we found through positive changes a way of attracting new staff through word of mouth. Staff incentives, better pay rates and ensuring we pass on positive feedback help us enable staff retention.
Do you have any advice for students preparing for their first day at work?
Bring a notebook! We want to ensure all students benefit from the experience so on their first day we set placement objectives which helps maintain focus. With a notebook a placement student can keep a diary that will reflect how those objectives are met and a reminder of what they have achieved.
Renard Resources is ADC College’s placement partner and you can find out more about what they do here. The Internship Programme is a project eligible for EU funding. Don't hesitate to contact us if you would like more information about what we do and how to get funding. Call a Country Manager today on +44 2084249424 or send us a message.