My name is Gemma Waterfield and I am currently a final year undergraduate student studying Cruise Management (BSc) at Plymouth University. Back in 2008 when I was applying for a university place a few factors influenced me into choosing the cruise management degree at Plymouth. Firstly I chose to study A level Travel and Tourism in sixth form, which gave me great platform knowledge about the industry. Secondly, I was lucky enough to experience a family holiday onboard P&O Cruises ship, Oriana at the age of 16. It was this experience that ignited my passion for the cruise industry and my ambition to work at sea.
During my A level studies I worked as a part time waitress and bartender at my local pub which gave me my first taste of hospitality. On completion of my A levels I decided to take a year out and worked as a Fraud Analyst for Barclaycard at their head office in my hometown of Northamptonshire. This enabled me to gain some valuable skills that would later prove useful in my time at University.
I started at Plymouth University in September 2009. At first it was all a bit daunting, being in a new city, with new friends and fending for myself. Also the work at university is quite different to A levels, but the support from tutors and speaking to students in the years above really helped and soon I was really into the swing of things. In the summer before starting my second year of University, I decided I needed to gain more relevant experience and so I pursued a summer job with TUI UK. I worked for Thomson and Firstchoice as a Holiday Advisor overseas in Cyprus. This experience helped my confidence to grow even more and future employers have always been interested in this aspect of my CV.
During my second year of University I applied for a student placement year with both P&O Cruises and Royal Caribbean. After much deliberation I decided to accept the placement with P&O Cruises and I spent a year (2 contracts) on Ventura as a Hotel Cadet which was one of the best years of my life.
I am now in my final year with only a few months left to go until I graduate. I am currently in the process of researching for my dissertation which is to investigate if culture has an impact on leadership in the Cruise Industry. In June I will be going to Ghana to volunteer for 3 weeks and then after graduation in September I am planning on going back to the cruise industry after receiving a few different job offers!
I can honestly say that when I started at Plymouth 4 years ago I never imagined I would be given all the opportunities and experiences that I have. I can honestly say I haven never looked back.