Internship at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental for special needs students

One of Hong Kong’s leading hotels partners with social enterprise Cookie Smiles and the Shine Skills Centre to develop The Shining Star programme – an internship scheme aimed at students with special needs

From left to right: Christoph Schauer, Michelle Yam, Ruby Kwok, Gu Shi Yu, Jill Goh, Esteban Daphne Jerelyn, Jo Soo-Tang,
Kwok Ka Fung, chef Richard Ekkebus, Lee Ho Ting and Joyce Lee. Photo: Cookie Smiles

The Shining Star programme is the brainchild of Cookie Smiles and the end result between the social enterprise, The Landmark Mandarin Oriental (Hong Kong) and Shine Skills Centre (SSC) to offer SSC students with disabilities a Trial Work Placement Scheme programme.

Shine Skills Centre is a member institute of the Vocational Training Council (VTC). The scheme takes students from the following courses from the Shine Skills Centre (VTC) programmes: Certificate in Fast Food Operation (QF level 1), Bakery and Café Service and Catering Service and find them placement within the luxury hotel.

Jill Goh, general manager at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, says, “[…] We are extremely excited to be part of this meaningful inauguration with Cookie Smiles on providing hospitality career opportunities to the students of the Shine Skills Centre. We can’t wait to welcome them to be part of our family.”

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The programme aims to provide real-life working exposure for students with disabilities and prepare them for open employment backed with work experience upon graduation. A buddy system is implemented to provide guidance and support during the work placement. The first intake started on June 1st.

Cookie Smiles co-founder, Jo Soo-Tang, hopes that this programme will drive awareness and inclusion so that more hospitality and F&B players get involved in hiring special needs students as interns. “I’ve been a big supporter of The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, since 2017,” she says. “I am very excited that they are the first hotel to join Cookie Smiles’ Shining Star programme. I look forward to working with them in the long term.”

Since its launch in June 2020, Cookie Smiles has put its own unique stamp on the fundraising map of Hong Kong despite a global pandemic. Using its philosophy of doing good through “the greatest comfort food on earth”, the enterprise co-founded by Agnes Chin and Jo Soo-Tang has raised HK$500,000 since its inception.

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