Louise Matson spent her pre-university summer working at Eurocamp in France - and completely changed her mind about her future.
With A-levels in psychology, law, English literature and general studies, I planned to read law at university. But then I decided to go to Eurocamp in France. I really enjoyed the work and realised it was time to rethink my career choice.
When I returned to England, I decided to enrol on a trainee management programme at Scarborough's Norbreck hotel, which is part of the Shearings group. This is a large hotel company, so there are plenty of opportunities for promotion and learning.
I'm quite ambitious, so I wanted to start making my way in business. I was very eager to get out and start building a career, rather than spend another three years behind a desk working on theory.
As part of the management programme, I was invited to work on an apprenticeship scheme and gain NVQs through the training provider HCTC, which specialises in vocational training for the hospitality industry.
This was the perfect opportunity for me. I enrolled on an advanced apprenticeship in hospitality supervision - and through that I'll be able to gain an NVQ at level 3.
Hands-on experience is crucial in the hospitality industry. This is a people-facing business, and as well as hard business management skills you need to have a great many practical and interpersonal skills, too.
With an apprenticeship, I'm gaining qualifications and work experience.
It's ideal - I can use a practical approach that is good for business, while I also have the theory and background to back up my actions.
At the age of 23 I've already reached the position of assistant manager.
From here I'll move into a hotel manager role. And from there I may go into a national management position. But the industry is growing all the time, with new career opportunities opening up - so I want to keep my options open.
HCTC operates throughout England, Scotland and Wales and is the only UK-wide training provider dedicated exclusively to the hospitality industry. The company works with most of the leading names in the industry as well as the best of local independents. To apply, go to www.hctc.co.uk
or telephone 0500 832300. Training and assessment take place at work.
Candidates work towards NVQ at level 2 for an apprenticeship, and towards level 3 for an advanced apprenticeship.