Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Hotel, Restaurant and Resort Management
Surrounded by a rich heritage and family culture of hospitality and tourism, Nathan Gillespie hoped that his career focus would be in this industry. Nathan’s family have a historic connection with the Killybegs campus and family members have attended the college as far back as 1970.
A Moville native, Nathan’s first employment was working in a kitchen, however, he soon realised that this was not the correct avenue to compliment his skills.
“Although I enjoyed working in the kitchen, I was curious about what was happening out front and in the dining room. I knew that I wanted to work in this industry, and I decided to talk to my parents and my school principal about my options. It was from these discussions that I realised that I wanted to move in the career direction of front of house. I then enrolled to Killybegs on the Hospitality and Tourism programme and chose the Hotel, Restaurant and Resort Management degree option”, says Nathan.
“I found accommodation in Killybegs without a problem and I was able to travel home to work at the weekends. In Year 1, I did my placement at Redcastle Hotel. I ended up working there for over two years. I was delighted to be a part of the team when the restaurant was awarded their second AA Rosette Award”.
“The placement was a great way of getting experience and gaining an insight into different aspects of the operations and there were lots of opportunities to visit different hotels. One day per week for four weeks, we could choose between several hotels and go out and shadow the hotel’s employees.
“During my fourth year of study, the college organised a day trip to visit Ashford Castle in County Mayo. I was determined to get on this trip as I was curious to see inside Ashford Castle”, enthuses Nathan. It was during this visit that Nathan talked to Ashford Castle about employment opportunities.
“I spoke to management staff at Ashford Castle and later forwarded my C.V. I got a job offer and they held the job for me until I finished my fourth year of study. I have been working at Ashford Castle since and it has been an amazing two years. I have learned so much and having commenced employment with my degree made such a difference. I find that management show me great respect because they know that I have studied for 4 years and I am serious about my career in the industry. It really is very valuable to have a degree. I mentor and train new staff and organise monthly training sessions. These sessions target specific skills training. I work closely with management on this”.
“I have recently been promoted to Demi Chef De Rang. Every 3-4 months, I sit down with management to identify progression opportunities in my career. We identify the necessary training and I then work towards that goal”.
Nathan was shortlisted in the Forbes Global Travel Awards 2021 alongside other honourees from Hong Kong, Panama and the US. One of only five finalists around the world, this prestigious award recognises hard working, passionate people and celebrates staff members that stand out in their service to guests and co-workers.
“I look back on my four years at ATU Donegal and it was great fun and I have great memories. The smaller class size gave me the opportunity to get to know people and the staff were fantastic. I even remember the library staff who helped me along the way and went above and beyond their duties. The fondest memory I have of my ATU Donegal journey is the people that I met along the way. I am still in contact with my lecturers and the people I trained with. I enjoy seeing what the others are doing and watching their journeys in the industry is fantastic” says Nathan.