Robert Richardson is a 55-year old African American single father who lives in Dorchester, MA. He worked a variety of jobs with temporary staffing agencies, most frequently in industrial cleaning. His most recent assignment was as an overnight cleaner at an hourly wage of $13.00. His hours fluctuated from week to week, and he had no benefits.
We met Robert when he applied for and was accepted to BEST’s housekeeping pre-apprenticeship class, the Introduction to Hospitality Training Program. This 150 hour, six-week, full time training program, trains participants for positions in hotel housekeeping departments. The related classroom instruction includes components such as hands-on skills training in a model hotel room, ergonomics, chemical safety and blood-borne pathogens, cross-cultural communication skills, customer service, professionalism, non-harassment, financial literacy, computer skills, interview skills, hotel branding and two weeks of job shadowing. Upon completion, participants work with career coaches on their job search. Graduates receive a Massachusetts Department of Labor Housekeeping Pre-Apprenticeship credential. An articulation agreement between Bunker Hill Community College and BEST awards 9 college credits to pre-apprentice graduates pursuing a hospitality certificate or associates degree upon completion of their prior learning assessment portfolio.
Robert graduated from BEST’s class in February 2017. He interviewed with 4 hotel partners at a job fair that we hosted. Each employer was interested in Robert’s candidacy & invited him to interview. His first interview was at the Omni Parker House. They offered him a full time position the very next day, and he began his housekeeping apprenticeship as a Housekeeping Houseperson on March 8, 2017, at $21.45/hour with a full benefit package. Robert graciously declined the other three interviews. When Robert completes his housekeeping apprenticeship, he will earn a nationally recognized certification from the Massachusetts Department of Labor and 3 additional credits at Bunker Hill Community College.
Robert said that he had always felt that working for such a historic and luxurious hotel downtown was never a possibility for him. He stated that he earns more now in one week than he did working several weeks before. He loves his job and his coworkers and envisions spending the rest of his working years there. He has also expressed that he would love to come to one of BEST’s classes to share his experience with our new students.
Margarida Jurgensen came to the United States in 2007 for a “better life for her kids”. She worked at a fast food chain for five years, earning $9.50/hour as an evening shift supervisor. We first met Margarida when she interviewed for the BEST Room Attendant Program. In her interview, she broke down in tears and told us, “This isn’t a better life.” Margarida completed BEST’s Room Attendant Training in 2012. She obtained a job at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, where she makes $20.28/hour and her employer pays an additional $9.41/hour into her benefit plan. She is actively looking to buy a house with the $10,000 first-time home buying grant that is part of her benefits program. When asked about BEST’s training, Margarida said, “It was like going from zero to 100.”