Beverley, Reception Team Member, Premier Inn
Getting back into the working world after a while, or embarking on something new later in life can be daunting. Fear, self doubt and questioning whether it’s even possible is holding people back from starting a new chapter in their life. At Whitbread, we want to turn around the negatives and help you change your story – both the stories you tell yourself about lack of confidence, ability or employability, and your future ambitions too. You’re at the best place to #ChangeYourStory, with the UK’s leading hospitality business.
When I started at Premier Inn, on Day 1 they said in my job ‘you can go further and further and further…’.
I have to admit, I raised my eyebrow at that.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
I started here in December last year and I guess the manager saw something in me. When he told me I could do an apprenticeship, my jaw hit the floor!
“An apprenticeship at my age! Really?”, I said.
Well, I had the interview for the apprenticeship and I told them what I’d done in the past. They told me I could do a Level 3. All for free, to give me some qualifications. I said: “Pardon! Level 3? Me? I’m too old.”
They signed me up.
I told them I hadn’t done an exam in 40 years!
But you know what, I started it and I’m flying. I passed my mock exams and I shocked myself! I thought ‘I’m an OAP, I’m past it!’ but my manager and the apprenticeship co-ordinator have helped me believe I can do it.
And I can.
I became an ‘expert’ after just 8 months. There’s not many that get to that level so quickly.
I’ve got a taste for progressing now. I’m up for the next thing - whatever that may be in Premier Inn. Can I shadow a Deputy Hotel Manager? Can I work at a different site to gain more experience? I want more.
I mean, I came here to retire, now it’s given me the extra oomph to go do more, and more, and more – and why not?
I told my Hotel Manager, if I’d have come here 10 years ago, I’d be sitting in your shoes now. He said “you still could be”. The way I see it, I’ve got 12 years before I retire. I’m still young at the end of the day.
I actually wanted to work at the Premier Inn for many years. But jobs for receptionists at the hotels near me never seemed to come up. One day I was looking through the Job Centre and there was this opportunity.
I came for a 16 hour job. I’m now full time and well on my way to completing an apprenticeship.
When I came for an interview, all I thought was ‘this job will see me to retirement, it’ll be easy. It’ll be ok, I’ll just say ‘hello, here’s your key’ and that’ll be it.’
Now, 12 months on I’m thriving here, I love my job. When I first started, I thought it was great. All the guest feedback on Trip Advisor was so positive, the guests loved me. There's a community feel that goes beyond the hotel as well - we raise a lot of money for Great Ormond Street Hospital and I'm the champion for my site. I've had a lot of fun coming up with fundraising ideas, doing hampers, tombolas and sponsored walks. It really adds to the feeling of being in a proper team.
The role itself does change, no day’s the same here. I’m no spring chicken and it can be physical if you’re pitching in with housekeeping. But the company accepts that. They understand we don’t run around as fast as the teenagers.
Computers, at my age, can be hard too. We didn’t have them when I was growing up. But all the training’s there. Don’t be afraid to ask. They do support you here. Because you feel like you’re getting on, don’t be scared to ask the young. They were born with all the technology around them and, in my experience, they’re always happy to help. Certainly are in this team.
I would say to anyone thinking about working at Premier Inn: ‘try it, you’ll be very surprised’. It’s given me that boost I didn’t realise I needed.
I’m a mum of 4 children and I’ve got 3 grandchildren. And that’s a consideration for people of my generation - we’ve still got childcare commitments, but this time it’s the grandchildren!
But don’t let it stop you.
In fact, I’d say ‘get out there and do it!’. Otherwise you’re sitting round the house watching daytime TV with a biscuit! Now, don’t get me wrong, every now and then it’s fine. But if you get a job with purpose in a team that cares and you’ll get an even better feeling, I promise!