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Lauren builds the right ‘foundation’ for her career

Published: 02 June 2014

Enthusiastic Foundation degree student Lauren Deegan is gaining a unique insight into management and operations at Belfast International Airport thanks to her placement opportunity at South Eastern Regional College.

Lauren said the experience – part of her foundation degree programme – was invaluable and has helped to shape her career plans. Colleagues at the airport also helped her with useful networking skills, such as building up her CV and interview skills and techniques.

Having completed her extended diploma in Travel and Tourism, 21 year old Lauren who now studies the Foundation Degree in Hospitality Tourism and Events at SERC’s Downpatrick campus, wanted to progress to degree level and realised that the foundation degree would be a good stepping stone.

Speaking about the Foundation degree Lauren, who has aspirations to become a director, explained that it has helped her gain invaluable knowledge and skills, allowing her to build her confidence as well as progress to University. It was beneficial as Lauren remained living at home while gaining the skills and qualities that will help her gain her dream job in airport operations to help me achieve my dream job in airport operations.

SERC Principal and Chief Executive Mr Ken Webb explains: “Foundation degrees combine academic study with on-the-job experience. This means Foundation degree students graduate with a specialised set of skills that meet the specific needs of employers in a particular sector. “At SERC we are committed to providing students with valuable work placements and development opportunities which allow them to improve their skills, add to their knowledge and explore their potential. During the placement programme students are given the opportunity to work in a busy environment with the aim of developing their skills, building their knowledge and allow them to gain experience with the aim of helping them secure full time employment following their degree."

Speaking about her experience Lauren said: “I would definitely recommend the Foundation degree programmes to anyone as they ease you into degree level education and prepare you for work, as well as providing a focus on work based learning and professional development. The placement was a wonderful opportunity to get an insight into the world of work. It was also a great opportunity to explore the career options open to me within the travel and tourism industry. The fact that the Foundation degree included a substantial work placement was what convinced me to enrol. I would recommend studying a Foundation degree to anyone thinking of returning to education. Once I complete the foundation degree I plan to progress to university to complete a top up degree.”

Course Coordinator Roxana Magee explains: “As part of the work placement programme, Lauren got hands on experience of what it takes to ensure the smooth operation of a busy airport. Lauren worked in every department at the airport during her placement, including operations, ground handling, marketing and security.

“We are delighted that Belfast International Airport agreed to work with SERC on this exciting project. It is a superb opportunity to develop our students’ career aspirations and get an insight into the world of work. Due to the success of the placement, SERC is looking at the possibility of working with other organisations to offer more hospitality students the opportunity to experience something similar.”

Belfast International Airport Human Resources Manager, Jaclyn Coulter said: “We are really pleased to work with SERC to offer their students the opportunity to gain a real insight into the aviation industry. The time students spend with us is a chance for them to gain valuable experience and to help them decide which area they might want to focus on when they graduate.

“We really enjoyed having Lauren with us. She is very enthusiastic and learned first-hand the rigors of working in the tourism industry. If this is the quality of student SERC produces then I would recommend them to anyone and we look forward to welcoming many more students to the scheme in the future.”

Photo Caption:
Student Lauren Deegan has built the right ‘Foundation’ for her career by studying a Foundation Degree in Hospitality Tourism and Events at SERC.

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