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Shinnel Uerata

Wintec hospitality graduate Shinnel Uerata standing behind a bar

Hospitality student, Shinnel Uerata, is getting a head start on her career thanks to Wintec’s Work- Based Learning (WBL) programme.

The WBL programme is an optional component of the culinary arts (cookery) and hospitality programmes, developed in partnership with some of Hamilton’s top hospitality employers to provide students with relevant on-the-job experience over a four-week period.

While undertaking her culinary arts study at Wintec, Shinnel undertook a WBL placement at Mavis and Co.’s Hamilton East café. Just two weeks into the placement, Shinnel had proven her worth and was hired to work at Mavis and Co.

“When I first started cooking in a real (world) environment my head-chef gave me a lot of good constructive criticism which helped me improve my skills.”

Shinnel said she loves working with her team at Mavis, and says they’ve become like family to her. The team at Mavis works with her and schedules shifts around her needs so she can continue her study at Wintec and maintain a good balance with her family life. 

As a mother to two young sons Shinnel says, juggling study, work and family is a challenge in itself, but it’s worth it.

Two years ago she was working in a job that felt like she was going nowhere fast.

“I felt like I was just wasting away.”

A tutor, on a parenting course she attended gave her the push she needed to pursue her dreams.

That’s when she decided to turn her passion for cooking into a career by enrolling in the Culinary Arts programme at Wintec.

Since then Shinnel has completed the Culinary Arts year 1 programme, received a special award for most outstanding student in her class and is now part-way through the Advanced Culinary Arts programme.

Wintec hospitality tutor Marco Guimaraes, who coordinates the WBL programme alongside chef tutor Amy Opperman, said it was hoped the work placements would help other students find employment – either directly through it, or as a result of the experience gained. The work-based learning programme is currently a voluntary component of student’s work, but one that he says has helped Shinnel and other students get a head start with their careers.

“One of Shinnel's main attributes is her team work, during our services at Windows (Wintec’s training restaurant), not only would she be two steps ahead of what needed to be done, but she also managed to make time to help the other team members. Making sure they were ok, especially the ones who were struggling. Nothing was too hard or difficult for her.”

“New Zealand is in need of more cookery and hospitality graduates, these qualifications feature on the government’s long term skill shortage list. Shinnel is exactly the type of person that our industry needs, people who get things done!"

Shinnel Uerata is living her dream but can’t believe it took her so long to figure things out, she says. She hopes her story can inspire others who may have put their dreams aside to just “go for it” too.

“Live the life you want and do something you enjoy doing.

“Now the world is my oyster, I guess.”

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