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Going Places in Broadford

06 Mar 2007

Waiting on tables or serving drinks behind the bar are jobs many students choose to finance their studies as they chase other careers.

It can be a job for an amateur, generally demanding no more than a steady hand and a friendly persona.

But for Broadford student Rosalee Penfold, waitressing and bar work are part of a professional calling beyond mere survival as a student.

Rosalee, 19, is a second-year student in the Diploma of Hospitality at Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE (NMIT) and strongly believes in the creative challenges the jobs involve.

Indeed, Rosalee began part-time work at the Trawool Valley Resort just 12 months ago without ever having made a café latte or mixed a Bloody Mary.

For her, developing professional skills and knowledge of the industry meant starting at the bottom - advancing to be the best in the business by understanding every detail of her trade from the ground up.

'Doing it all is the best way to learn and become a good manager in the future,' Rosalee said. ' You need to see every aspect of what's involved in managing a restaurant and do it all with hands-on experience. That gives you the confidence to know what your staff must do when you're a manager.'

Rosalee, who completed Year 12 in Newcastle in NSW, has always wanted to work in the hospitality industry and enrolled at NMIT last year when she moved to Victoria with her partner.

While she said some people might think of waitressing as just a means to an end, for her, it's a career that promises fun, enjoyment and good times alongside hard work and discipline.

'People who think of waitresses as servants haven't got a clue about what's involved. You need a lot of knowledge about a variety of food and drinks and have to think on your feet to be one step ahead of the customers.'

Rosalee acknowledged that while she was 'a bit of a shy person' before coming to Victoria, waitressing had boosted her confidence and helped her become more of a people person.

'You have to have really good people skills to talk and chat with customers; also, you have to know how to deal with conflicts when difficulties arise, and of course, they do.'

Studying a Diploma of Hospitality at NMIT has given me the knowledge and expertise to know what to do and understand the industry, Rosalee added.

'We've been told about a glass ceiling in the business; if you want to stay a waitress all your life you mightn't need to study, but moving ahead demands professional qualifications.'

Rosalee has no doubt about where she wants to go - either owning her own restaurant or managing a restaurant in a top hotel.

For her, the industry involves artistic creativity with the presentation of the food and drinks and running her own restaurant would give her the opportunity to design her own theme and put own stamp on it.

'People go out to restaurants to have a good time and seeing people's reactions to the food and drinks makes working in a restaurant very enjoyable. When they come up and say thank you before they leave, it gives you a really good feeling about yourself. I love it.'

Diploma of Hospitality Course Inquries: Tel: NMIT (03) 9269-1571

Interview / Photo Opportunity

Media enquiries should be directed to the NMIT Communications Officer, James Gardener, on 03 9269 1579, 0413 483 182 or

NMIT (Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE) – Situated on six campuses and six training centres throughout Melbourne’s north plus a regional campus at Ararat, NMIT delivers vocational training, higher education and lifelong learning capabilities for a global workforce.  NMIT forges partnerships with community, industry and government to produce practical, solution orientated graduates capable of making meaningful contributions to their chosen field of endeavour.