Wants to start a J1 Internship Programme
Written By: Rosalee D. Wood
Kirk Wiggan believes in sending the elevator back down. A tourism worker who now resides in the United States of America, calls Truro, a small community in Westmoreland, home. His passion for travelling, socializing, and learning about different cultures, steered him in the direction of the hospitality industry. His dream job has always been to be a general manager at one of the Sandals Hotels, and although his career route has taken him a distance out of the way, he has not given up on the idea.
After graduating Manning’s in the year 2001, Wiggan took a break from school before continuing his studies at the Montego Bay Community College (Com. C). There he pursued, firstly, an Associate Degree in Hospitality Management with a focus in Food and Beverage Management, and afterwards his Bachelor’s in Hospitality Management.
After graduating Com. C., he got the opportunity to gain experience from the Work Travel Internship Programme. His first job was at the Kingsmill Resort, in Williamsburg, Virginia, where he gained experience in Housekeeping. In 2011, he acquired a permanent position with Windham Resorts as Room Inspector Officer. He was soon afterwards promoted to Housekeeping Manager.
After earning his MBA in 2017 from the College of William and Mary Mason School of Business, Wiggan landed a job at HMP Properties, a management company that owns multiple hotel franchises across the U.S.A. His first role there was Executive Housekeeper. He was shortly afterwards promoted to Front Office Manager, then Assistant General Manager, then Task Force General Manager, and now his current role is Regional Operations Manager. At present he has seven hotels under his portfolio. To date, his most challenging experience has been adapting to the American culture, in terms of communication in a leadership role.
Although he is cemented in American Tourism, Wiggan still contributes to the Jamaican Tourism Industry. HMP Hotels rely heavily on H2B Workers each season, as there is not an ample work force in the areas where the hotels are based. They value Jamaican workers because of their work ethic and their availability. This programme allows Jamaican tourism workers to be more marketable as they are more efficient after the experience gained. He sees the programme as a dual benefit for both industries.
In a bid to further boost Jamaica’s tourism industry, Wiggan wants to start a J1 Internship Programme where students who have just graduated from community colleges and high schools can gain experience in the hotel industry for one year before continuing their studies.
“One of the main requests of Jamaican employees is work experience. If students can gain work experience while studying, they will be more marketable, and more efficient staff will be entering the Jamaican industry.” Wiggan stated.
Wiggan currently has a mentorship programme that allows him to guide youths in the West, from high school into their careers. Two of his mentees have already completed college and are now Engineers, and he is currently awaiting the CXC results of the youngest who just graduated Rusea’s High School.