Hi my name is Simba, I come from Zimbabwe. I’m currently 29 years old and want to tell you my story of how I got into the tourism industry and where I’m heading right now. I am very excited to be part of SkillDiary and am looking forward to this experiment! During my career I’ve been a student, did a buttler cours, was in hotel management, worked as a waiter, had a position as junior manager and now ended up as a guest house manager. Let me go a little in-depth though, as to how I ended up where I am.
When I was a child, my dream was to become an accountant, but the more I got involved with my father’s work the more I knew what I wanted to be, so from early on I knew that the hospitality industry was something I would probably end up doing. My father was a chef, but mainly did it to make money during the tourism seasons. Through that I learned about the branch and wanted to get involved in the industry. It’s a very fun branch I’m very passionate about, it’s amazing to be able to talk to so many people from all over the world and learn something new every day. Seeing people happy and being able to make them fall in love with a restaurant, a holiday or even a country is something very special I think. For me, working in the hospitality industry is more than just a paycheck, it’s my passion. On top of that I’d say that I’m a very talkative person, so making use of those skills was another thing I had in mind when getting into the tourism industry 🙂
It wasn’t easy though. I was 19 when I came to South Africa from Zimbabwe. There I was rejected a lot because of my age. People in South Africa would rather hire someone older with more experience so I thought to myself that if I gain more experience and more qualifications, I can become someone. Because of that I had to improve myself and had to face the challenges. It was very difficult, if it was about money I would’ve given up. But it was my passion. One day I’ll be there!
I dropped out of university in the first semester during the great depression of Zimbabwe. It was simply too expensive, my family couldn’t support it anymore. So I decided to go to South Africa and sort myself out, become my own person. There were no foreign guests coming to Zimbabwe, so the tourism sector there was really struggling and crashed. What’s left were almost entirely local guests. Knowing that and knowing that the tourism and hospitality industry was my goal, there was no future for me in my home country, so I packed my things and went to South Africa. There I could school myself, get experiences and become educated about the industry. It was necessary to achieve my ambitions.
Getting into South Africa wasn’t easy. It was a foreign country where I knew nobody. I had no family there so I had to go and prove myself, which was difficult. Being a foreigner without qualifications, I had to start working from the very bottom. At my first job I was employed as a gardener. While doing that I volunteered to work at a local restaurant, where I cleaned dishes, just so I could get some experience and my foot into the door of the tourism industry. After two weeks I told them that I wanted to get involved more in the kitchen and learn cooking. They told me to help with preparations after I was done with my dish-washing shift. Having to fight for my dreams from the very bottom made me more and more certain that this is something I want and that the hospitality industry is the place where I want to work. I talked to the restaurant manager and told him that I want to cook, I want to work. I needed the money for my education. He hired me as a waiter and put me up welcoming guests and sitting them down. From then on I was able to pay for my training and improve myself. School ate almost my whole salary during these days, it was a giant battle.
South Africa has a huge influx of foreign workers from Zimbabwe, and I was just one of them. It wasn’t easy finding a job and making people believe in me. There were days that were really depressing, where the whole world seemed to crash down onto me, days where I wanted to give up. What kept driving me was the fact that I had fought so much and was so close to my dreams. In the end I am very happy that I pulled through and never lost my goals.
Thank you for taking your time to hear my story! I’m looking forward to the coming months of SkillDiary! 🙂