Respect Shona

Our Respect campaign encourages everyone to ‘Respect Yourself’, ‘Respect the Community’, ‘Respect the Environment’ and ‘Respect People’.

Respect in all its forms may be something that you don’t often think about. Yet, it is crucial for developing  effective relationships at college.

We recently heard from members of our Estates team, who spoke about the importance of feeling respected at work.

Now, members of our Front of House team – the first point of contact when people come into the College – share their views on the subject.

Concluding our mini-series is Shona Taylor, Front of House Assistant at Kilwinning.


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Shona began “When I read the previous Respect blogs on members of the Estates Team, I thought to myself ‘what would I have talked about?’”

Shona has been working as a Front of House team member for almost three years and cites interacting with people as one of the biggest perks of the job.

She said “I try to treat everyone with respect and be as professional as possible when visitors come to the College.

“Nine times out of ten, I am respected back. The only reason that it’s not ten is because sometimes, with certain people, you get the feeling that in their mind we’re not important.

“However, we are the frontline and it would be nice if all staff remember to keep us in the loop, for example when they have visitors coming in. If they have a visitor coming in at 10am, they might think ‘that’s fine, I’ll go down to meet them at 10am’. But what if the visitor comes in early?

“I appreciate that staff can be caught up in other things, but it just doesn’t look professional for us not to be aware of who’s arriving. We like to be prepared and have the visitor badges ready.

“Generally, most students treat me with respect, as I do them. They are usually courteous when they come to us. The only slight concern is when they are congregating around the reception area. It would help us if they could tone it down a little.

“Bad language can be problematic at times. I don’t think they mean to do it, they are just talking to their friends, but it does create a bad impression when we have visitors waiting.”

Shona believes communication is the key to achieving a respectful working environment.

She said “My kids are in their 20s and if I ask them to phone someone to find out some information they’ll respond ‘why wouldn’t you just Google it or e-mail the person?’

“We’ll sometimes have students phone and just say things like ‘Funding?’. ‘Funding, please’ would be an improvement! This might just be down to students not making regular phone calls but we all need to communicate better.”

Respect Elaine

Our Respect campaign encourages everyone to ‘Respect Yourself’, ‘Respect the Community’, ‘Respect the Environment’ and ‘Respect People’.

Respect, in all its forms, may be something that you don’t often think about. Yet it is a crucial quality to develop in order to have effective relationships at college.

We recently heard from members of our Estates team, who spoke candidly about the importance of feeling respected at work.

Now we catch up with members of our Front of House team, the first point of contact at the College, to get their perspective on the subject.

Following Respect Carol, we spoke to Elaine McVey at the Kilmarnock Campus to get her thoughts.


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Yesterday we heard from Elaine’s colleague Carol, who has provided Ayrshire College with 25 years of service.

Today we change gears a little and speak to Elaine McVey who has only been in the job for six months.

Elaine has moved around the campuses during this time as she gets to know her working environment.

She said “I’ve settled in quite well. It’s interesting to meet new people and learn how each campus works. I was actually a student here for two years at the Kilwinning Campus, studying HNC and HND Administration and IT.

“As a student I didn’t actually appreciate how much work the staff do here. It’s only when I started that I realised ‘wow, they do loads for us’. They seemed like a good company to work for, which is why I went for the job.”

Having recently been on both sides of the reception desk, Elaine is in a great position to speak about the relationship between students and the Front of House team.

She said “We provide them with the information that they need, whether it’s finding out which room they’ve to go to or putting them in contact with their lecturers.

“In my six months here I’ve never experienced anyone – students or staff – disrespecting me. The only thing I would say is that you do get a lot of students who are quite noisy. I think they tend to forget that we are a working area. However, if you ask them to be quiet, they’re usually alright about it.”

A point that Carol raised previously was how necessary it is for the Front of House team to be made aware of visitors.

It’s something that Elaine is also keen to stress to staff.

“Sometimes we get a visitor come in and we’ve no idea who they’re here to see. It would be good if staff could keep us more informed.

“My advice would be to give reception as much information as possible. It’s good to respect people and keep them informed.”

Respect Carol

Our Respect campaign encourages everyone to ‘Respect Yourself’, ‘Respect the Community’, ‘Respect the Environment’ and ‘Respect People’.

Respect, in all its forms, may be something that you don’t often think about. Yet it is a crucial quality to develop in order to have effective relationships at college.

We recently heard from members of our Estates team, who spoke candidly about the importance of feeling respected at work.

Now we catch up with members of our Front of House team – as the first point of contact at the College – to get their perspective on the subject.

Starting the series is Carol Devine, who is a Front of House Assistant at Ayr.


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To begin with, Carol explained what duties a Front of House Assistant performs at the College.

Carol said “It’s a varied role. Here at Ayr there are two reception desks that we can be working at, and we also have the mail room and print room.

“You never know what your day is going to be like at reception. It can be varied every day.

“We interact with students, staff and visitors on a daily basis, and we can be approached in different ways. A student could come to us looking for information or they could be upset and needing guidance. It’s our job to remain as professional as possible and support everyone who comes to us.”

Carol has been at Ayrshire College for 25 years, working in a part-time marketing role for two years before joining the Front of House team.

In that time she has seen major changes to the College.

“The expansion of the Ayr Campus to include the Riverside Building and the Aeronautical Engineering Training Centre was the first major development.

“Then there was the merger in 2013 of Ayr College, Kilmarnock College and the Kilwinning Campus of James Watt College.

“The organisation is much bigger now. In my role it is important that I know who everybody is. This can be difficult at times due to the size and location of the organisation and its location (East, North and South Ayrshire).

“I am continually learning every day which makes my role very interesting and different every day.”

Moving onto the subject of respect, Carol thinks for a moment before saying “I do feel respected.

“I think you have to give respect to gain respect back. I’m nice to the students and the staff, so they’re nice back to me.

“Of course there are issues. For example, staff need to let us know what time their visitors are due in, what room they’ve to go to, how many people are coming in, etc.

“If we don’t know about a visitor or event then we feel like we’re not doing our job to the best of our ability. If we can’t find the person they’re in to see, it reflects badly on us.

“As the first point of contact either by phone or face-to-face we have to be aware of the correct person or department to pass the enquiry on to and sometimes they can be quite frustrated but I feel it’s our role to try and elevate this by good communication and respect.

“I don’t think people should be taking out their frustrations on us. Although we do understand that they are not necessarily meaning to get at us.”

All in all though, Carol surmises that “everyone at the College is really nice.”

Ayrshire Connects – University of Glasgow visit

Ayrshire Connects is a new network that has been set up with the aim of connecting our female STEM students across the College. Recently, they organised a visit to the University of Glasgow to meet with their female engineering society – FemEng.

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The students were greeted by Nina and Ellen, the president and vice president of the FemEng society. Next was a meeting with a group of students from FemEng. They talked about what it’s like to study at university and how they felt about studying male-dominated subjects at university. Nearly all of the FemEng members were studying different disciplines of engineering but they enjoy coming together to study and arranging fun events on campus.

First up on the tour was a visit to the James Watt Nanofabrication Centre where the students were met by Professor Douglas J. Paul, who gave a presentation on Micro and Nanotechnology. Next they were suited up in personal protective equipment – suits to cover them from head to toe – to enter the centre’s clean room, which is a state-of-the-art facility for microfabrication and high-specification nanofabrication. The 1350m2 clean room houses over £32M worth of nanofabrication tools. The students got to see some of the University’s technicians working on their various research projects.

The highlight of the tour was a visit to the Biomedical Engineering Department to meet Dr Henrik Gollee, a senior lecturer.

He explained that his research interests are in the use of control engineering methods to understand how humans control their movements, in particular, using this understanding to develop assistive and rehabilitation methods for people with neurological impairments. To demonstrate some of the work he does, he hooked Becky, an Ayrshire Connects member, up to a machine which gave out a small electrical current. When he typed information into his laptop, Becky’s hand began to move on its own. He explained that this can be helpful for people who have spinal damage and have lost the use of their limbs.

Finally, the Ayrshire students got the opportunity to visit and speak with another University of Glasgow student society – UGRacing – who in the summer are competing in “Formula Student” at Silverstone racetrack against 200 other universities from around the world.

Working as a team in their free time, they design and manufacture a race car, building it from the ground up, taking the project from the initial concept to a full model 3D representation of the car they have designed.

The trip was a huge success, and will hopefully be the first of many fun trips.

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If you would like to join Ayrshire Connects please speak to your lecturer, visit the Ayrshire Connects Facebook page or email ayrshireconnects@ayrshire.ac.uk to find out more.

Meet the new Hospitality Intern at Ayrshire College

The main benefits to internships are experiencing working as part of a team, developing professional relationships within the organisation and making external contacts. Working hard will make a good impression and leaving with a great reference will be invaluable when looking for your next job.

An internship is an opportunity to apply your academic knowledge to the real world. You will develop employability skills by working on real projects for a real organisation and it will also give you the interpersonal skills that you need to work effectively with others — and confidence in your own abilities.


Sarah Marshall, age 22 from Kilmarnock, started a Hospitality Internship at Ayrshire College’s training restaurant Salt and Barrel in the Kilmarnock Campus in November, right before the busy festive period.

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Sarah tells us about her typical day and what it’s like to be the new Hospitality Intern at Ayrshire College.


When I was at school I always knew I wanted a career in the hospitality industry.  I left school to go to Ayrshire College to study NC Hospitality, then progressed to HNC and HND Hospitality Management.  I was really pleased that I got all A’s as the standard is extremely high in the hospitality department at the College.

From there I went straight onto the third year at university to do a management course.  Luckily a friend pointed out that the intern position had come up at the College, working specifically with the new training restaurant at the Kilmarnock campus, Salt and Barrel, so I went for it!

I’ve been here since the end of November – just at the start of the busy festive period, so I was thrown in at the deep end.  But in the short time I’ve been here, I’ve learned so much.

Tell us about a typical day?

My main role is to support the Hospitality lecturers.  Every day starts with setting up the restaurant when I come in.  This can be making sure that the tables are all set, checking the bookings for that day, and checking that everything is in place for customers arriving for their lunch.

It means that when the students arrive in the morning, there’s no mad rush to set up as it’s already been done.

I take bookings, either over the phone or via the website saltandbarrel.co.uk, as well as updating the website and managing the Salt and Barrel social media pages.

I regularly do a stock control of the bar, and order new stock when required.  There’s a bit of negotiating with suppliers. I’m always trying to get a good deal.

I also help to negotiate with suppliers for upcoming events, whether that is flowers for the tables or food and drink.  I also get involved with trying to get new sponsors on board for events.

There is always something to do.  Even if it’s a quieter day, I always find that there’s a staff member coming in looking for help, so I’m happy to do that.  I really enjoy my job so it’s always a pleasure.

How long does the internship last and what are your plans?

It’s for 12 months.  Because I have enjoyed this experience so much, I have thought part of me would like to get into teaching.  The lecturers who work at the College have really inspired me to look more into the teaching aspect of the industry.

The lecturers here have a wealth of knowledge and I would like to get more experience, in different areas of the hospitality industry, before I decide exactly where I see myself in my career.  But, it will definitely be in the Hospitality industry!

John Govan, Head of Hospitality and Tourism at Ayrshire College said “We are delighted to have Sarah in this new post of Hospitality Intern supporting the students and the work of the training restaurant. The balance we have to achieve between the demands of the curriculum and student needs, and the demands of running a restaurant make it essential to have this new post, and Sarah has settled well into the role, and is helping to shape it for the future.”