International student lands dream job with top chef

Arfatul Islam graduates this summer with a Masters in International Tourism and Hospitality Management.

Originally hailing from Bangladesh, Arfatul arrived at Ulster University in January 2021 while Belfast was still in lockdown.

Arfatul always knew he wanted to pursue a career in hospitality with a strong desire to learn more about the industry from the ground up and wanted to do so in the UK. He describes how he arrived at the decision to come to Ulster University:

“When making decisions about where to study, I did extensive research on all UK universities and their ranking subject-wise. I actually received offers from a number of other universities but decided to study at Ulster as it’s number one in the UK for hospitality. I also had friends already in Belfast who were telling me about the positive experiences they were having at Ulster and how they were enjoying the university’s culture and teaching staff which helped with my decision.”

Arriving during lockdowns at the start of last year, Arfatul struggled with things being closed as well as adapting to the new climate. Fortunately, it wasn’t long until things began to reopen and he secured an important opportunity to become a chef at the AC Marriot Hotel in Belfast in June 2021, with mentoring from leading French chef Jean Christoff Novelli.

Soon after, things began to reopen across NI and opportunities arose for Arfatul to meet lecturers and classmates in person:

“This was truly an amazing experience after all the lockdowns – meeting people face-to-face and coming together as one. This is one of the highlights for me during my time at Ulster: the people. All of my teachers and lecturers were amazing support and dispelled any doubts I had about what I was doing and my abilities.”

Since successfully completing his studies, Arfatul has now moved to London to take on a Senior Chef de Partie role with the world-famous Gordon Ramsay Group – an opportunity for which he “wants to give full credit to Ulster University and its hospitality department.”

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