SHTCA Career Day: The Perfect Avenue For Students Paving Their Career Path

Raymond Tham Chee Theng (right), KDU’s SHTCA alumni, participating in the SHTCA Career Day as the co-founder and Executive Chef Director of Skillet at 163, a new concept restaurant. Beside him is Alex Cheah, Managing Director of 23 Atelier Concept.  Liou Chong Yaw (right), pioneering alumni batch of SHTCA who is now Executive Chef in Le Meridien Putrajaya and Four Points by Sheraton Puchong, sharing some pointers with students.
Kelvin Tam Jun Xiong (front) with a broad smile, after meeting Ms Ooi Lay Ling (centre), Human Resources Manager for Renaissance Kuala Lumpur Hotel and her assistant Ms Lisa See Thu (left).  SHTCA graduating students find that career day is so much convenient in looking for internship and future job. 
With graduating students looking for the best opportunities to either fulfil their industrial placement or start their career, KDU University College’s School of Hospitality, Tourism and Culinary Art (SHTCA) recently organised the ‘SHTCA Career Day’, a recruitment exhibition which saw participation from nearly 60 industry partners, comprising of 5 star hotels and renowned restaurants in the country. Among the great names were Starwood Hotels and Resorts, AccorHotels, Hilton Worldwide, Shangri-La Hotel and Resorts, YTL Hotels, Hyatt Hotels, Sunway Hotels and Resorts, Four Seasons, Marriott, F&B Paradise Group, Dorsett Internationals, Tous Les Jour, Skillet at 163, MyBurger Lab and so on. 

Besides featuring prominent names in the hospitality, tourism and culinary arts industries, this event also saw the homecoming of several successful alumni, who were at the SHTCA Career Day not only to recruit fresh graduates, but also to speaks to and impart some golden tips to the juniors in their alma mater.
To ensure that they get their best pick, the exhibitors also conducted on-the-spot interviews with the students. “They are doing interviews on-the-spot right now, very scary!” quipped one of the students. There were also students with clear and definite goals, and who eventually jumped for joy when they were recruited immediately following the on-the-spot interview sessions.
“Renaissance just offered me an internship placement right away, after my 15-minute interview session!” culinary arts student, Kelvin Tam Jun Xiong, exclaimed with a broad smile, after meeting Ms Ooi Lay Ling, Human Resources Manager for Renaissance Kuala Lumpur Hotel. “I will be starting my four-month internship at their Chinese restaurant in May this year. This is indeed a great chance for me to learn what I love to do,” Tam said about this opportunity, explaining his interest in learning authentic Chinese cooking skills in-depth.

When asked what factors attributed to Tam’s instant-recruitment, Ms Ooi Lay Ling explained, “Kelvin is very determine and knows what he wants to do. From the conversation, I understand that he is very interested in Chinese cuisine, and I think he has the right attitude and a flexible personality, that’s why I immediately recruited him.” According to Ooi, Renaissance takes in 140 interns yearly, which includes both local and international students. 
As for good pals Choo Jie Aun and Arrick Annison, who visited the SHTCA Career Day exhibition booths together, they wished to find good hotels as their very first training ground before entering the real world. The duo are in their final semester of  the Diploma in International Hospitality and Tourism Management programme.
“The SHTCA Career Day is a very convenient platform. This is because all the hotels are here in one place, and rather than checking individually to see which hotels are hiring, we can now walk around and send in our resume to our desired hotels. I appreciate this kind of arrangement,” said Arrick. “Yes, this is really hassle-free,” echoed Choo.
Arrick and Choo did their research on different hotels and knew what they wanted to aim for before entering to the hall. “The School told us about the career day 3 months in advance, so we already had a plan on which hotels to go for,” they said.
Though both Arrick and Choo were aiming training in F&B and front office respectively, they were also open to different areas of placement. “I think flexibility and willingness to learn is key. I told them they can routinely interchange my areas of training. The more departments I train in, the more knowledge I will gain, and this help me climb faster in this industry,” explained Arrick.
Sharing tips on how to present themselves better to different hoteliers, Arrick and Choo said, “You must be confident, do not break your flow of conversation, never give a long pause and go with the momentum.” 

Alumni Raymond Tham Chee Theng graduated from SHTCA’s Diploma in Hotel Management in year 2002, furthered his studies in Westminster Kingsway College, gained working experiences in England and Bermuda, and then returned to his alma mater as a pastry and chocolate chef lecturer at KDU University College about four years ago, before venturing out into the industry again. As one of the exhibitors at the career day, Tham is the co-founder and Executive Chef Director of Skillet at 163, a new concept restaurant.
As a newly set-up restaurant downtown in KL city centre, Skillet at 163 serves niche fine dine food of modern European touch with Asian flavours. Tham said his restaurant is looking for fulltime front office hosts who must be passionate towards life. “We believe in growing people, and we see staff as an important asset especially in the hospitality and culinary business. Today, I want to look for people who are eager to learn and to grow in this industry.”
Liou Chong Yaw, a first batch alumni from the early 80s when SHTCA was newly established, is now Executive Chef in Le Meridien Putrajaya and Four Points by Sheraton Puchong, under the big umbrella of Starwood Hotel and Resorts.
As an exhibitor at the SHTCA Career Day, Liou answered questions after questions from eager students wanting to know more about his experience, as well as job opportunities offered by the brand he is representing.
“I have been working with Starwood for 21 years. As the pioneering batch of culinary students from KDU, I am proud to be back, seeing the School in this brand new campus. SHTCA in KDU is one of the top training institutions for this industry. It has developed and produced so many good chefs who are now working in the country as well as in overseas. During my working life, I have encountered many KDU alumni who have performed really well in their work. I am really proud to see this,” said Liou.
At the end of the day, the SHTCA Career Day was not only a platform to create career opportunities for graduating students but also served as real-life sharing session with testimonies from various successful KDU alumni.