• Bradley Barrett

The Impact of real-world learning on a student

In line with my previous post, the balance between theory and practical learning is an incredibly interesting topic with both sides having a lot of support and belief in its importance on a student. As a student carrying out my six-month internship, I have seen the importance of real-world experience over the last three months. In actual fact, real-world learning had a big part to play in my previous post, “The young revenue manager”. Following a similar suit, I wanted to discuss the impact of real-world experiences on myself as an individual. However, this isn’t designed to highlight the problems with today's educational system but instead to show the impact of real-world learning as part of my education. In university, I studied hard, got the grades and jumped into the industry ready to do what I had been studying for the past three years. Why not? I had succeeded in terms of achieving the grades that I aimed for. On paper, I knew what there was to know in the hospitality industry. And in reality, my studies developed an incredible foundation for me as a young professional. I knew what was expected of me and to an extent, I was mentally and intellectually equipped for my internship. However, I quickly realised that there was a need for respecting the dotted line that separated school and work. While university is perfect for building the confidence of a young professional and developing the theoretical understanding of the hospitality industry, university could simply not prepare me for the ever-changing environment in which each day brings a completely different situation and scenario that tests my abilities. One must learn to adapt to the fact that things change. Guests expectations vary and our understanding of the hospitality industry needs to be allowed to grow with each day. Living in an information-rich era, the world has been opened to endless possibilities for students who are looking to make their mark. The education model of the industrial era saw a ‘one size fits all’ approach where students were required to listen and not question, memorise and repeat in preparation for a workforce that wasn’t required to think for themselves. However, the tech-savvy, information craving millennial generation that is seen as being the largest age group in today’s workforce is indulged in a knowledge-sharing economy driven by the power of connectivity. Simply sitting in a lecture hall will not provide the student with the ability to nurture an in-depth understanding and a passion for innovation that they are seeking. At times, I have had to remind myself to not get into the habit of parrot learning. I needed to find a way to make my studies relate to my experiences. With this, I have found that the real-world learning that I have received from my internship has helped develop the skills needed to navigate a rapidly evolving world. It is simple, we don’t know what we don’t know. Real-world experiences expose us to concepts and ideas that we may not have heard before. It opens our minds to a broader scope of learning and encourages a mindset of imagination. Identifying information gaps is the first step to gaining true knowledge and it is only when our knowledge is tested, do we truly understand how much we know. I want to end with a quote from Robert Kiyosaki in which he explains that in the real world outside of academics, something more than just grades is required. Guts, audacity, cunning, tenacity, whatever you wish to call it, it’s the factor that ultimately decides one’s future. While Robert was talking more about financial intelligence with this suggestion, it still resonates with me in my experience during my internship. Grades and school give us a sense of comfort. You slip up, you can write the exam again. You are given mock tests and past papers to get you prepared for the final exam but in the test of life, each exam is different. You may only have one opportunity during a guest's stay to ultimately gain that's guests loyalty. One moment in which the right execution of engagement will influence the guest's experience. If you fail, you lose the guest, and we all know the benefits of retention over attraction. So, all in all, the truth of the matter is that it's not so much about education vs. experience, but education and experience. They're not mutually exclusive but go hand-in-hand in charting out a young professional’s career growth.

Bradley Barrett | LinkedIn

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