Interview with Matthew Davidson, BA (Hons) International Hospitality and Tourism Management

Matthew Davidson is a 21 year old 4th year International Hospitality and Tourism Management from Edinburgh. During his time at QMU, he has benefitted from an incredible six month internship opportunity in the USA and is one of six QMU students in to have received £2.5k from the Lord Forte Foundation Scholarship.

What attracted you to the Hospitality and Tourism industry and why did you choose the course at QMU?

My mum works in the hospitality industry and she has always really enjoyed her work. I also worked in the industry while I was still at school, and I knew that I wanted an active job that involved talking and interacting with people – I certainly didn’t want to be stuck behind a desk every day. 

QMU appealed to me because it came across as a really modern day institution and I thought the course would give me the chance to develop my skills and knowledge of the hospitality and tourism sector.  I was attracted by the opportunity of a placement as part of the degree. I knew it would give me the chance to put my learning into practice. I’m so glad I chose QMU, as the staff helped me secure a course placement in the USA which turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life!

What have been the highlights of your course? 

I have really enjoyed the course. It does get tougher in the final year, but most of the things we are learning are really interesting, so that makes everything easier.

One of the most helpful parts of the degree has been the ‘Management Insight and Consultancy’ module. We were asked to develop a PDP – a document which focuses on three skills we have – one about our knowledge, another about our behaviour and the third about our skills. Part of the exercise involved us talking about ourselves - what we are good at and what we are bad at. It really helped me identify where my strengths, which, in turn, helped me improve my CV. I was able to sell myself more effectively – on paper and verbally. I think the exercise was quite enlightening for people.

Tell us about your 6-month placement in New York.

During my 2nd year at QMU, I was lucky enough to do a 6-month internship at the Old Westbury Golf and Country Club in New York, USA. QMU secured Scholarships from the Moffat Trust, and I was lucky enough to secure a Scholarship that also gave me £1,000 for my visa, which made the trip possible. It turned out to be the most amazing experience of my life.

I was given the opportunity to work in nearly every part of the business including bar work, dining service and event management. I also helped with the running of events that took part on the golf course.

The experience helped me learn about the industry, but I actually think I learned a lot more about myself during that time. Every day I had to speak to people for all over the world. This really helped me develop my communication skills and improve my overall confidence. The people I met in the country club were great and I was more than able to handle the work. I did work long hours, but it was enjoyable, so the long days were not a problem.

Tell us about your £2.5k Lord Forte Foundation Scholarship and the difference this will make to your student experience.

I found out about the Lord Forte Scholarships through an announcement on the QMU student Hub and was over the moon to discover that my application had been successful. I was awarded £2.5k through the scholarship. It’s so much more than I could have ever expected – a game changer for my final year!

Firstly, I’m going to use the funding to help advance my knowledge of the whisky industry. I really believe that developing knowledge of this important area will help me stand out from other young people in the hospitality sector. It should give me a competitive advantage when marketing myself to graduate employers. It looks like my first year will be a combination of hard work and enjoyable new learning experiences.  I have lots of distillery tours planned. I’m looking forward to learning more about the Scotland’s national drink, the whisky industry and my home country.

Secondly, I’ll use part of my Lord Forte Foundation Scholarship funding to get my TEFL - Teaching English in a Foreign Language qualification. At University, I developed an interest in training and coaching. One of my lecturers put me forward for a PALS (Peer Assisted Learning Support) mentor, which involved being part of a student group that helped and assisted other students with their learning in the classroom. I’ve continued my involvement with the project  throughout 4th year and I’m excited to further develop my teaching skills on the TEFL course.  Once I graduate, my TEFL training and my degree will allow me to travel around the world helping people - the two things that I love to do most!

I am so grateful to Lord Forte Foundation and QMU for this chance to benefit from this amazing scholarship. My student experience at QMU has been incredible and the Lord Forte Scholarship is allowing me to develop skills, and have experiences, that would not have been possible without the scholarship funding, I feel very lucky.

What’s our plan after graduation?

I’m going to keep my options open for this year, but I do have aspirations to work abroad in the hospitality industry in near future. The combination of a degree in International Hospitality and Tourism and the TEFL qualification should mean the world is my oyster!

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"I found out about the Lord Forte Scholarships through an announcement on the QMU student Hub and was over the moon to discover that my application had been successful. I was awarded £2.5k through the scholarship. It’s so much more than I could have ever expected – a game changer for my final year!"

Matthew Davidson