A Day in the Life of… a Service and Sales Advisor
24 November 2021
In our feature series A Day in the Life Of…, we introduce some of our people on the front lines at Unite Students, working to make students’ accommodation experience the best it can be.
This time, our interviewee is Chaquile Damoah, a Service and Sales Advisor in London who works across our Wellington Lodge and Moonraker Point properties. He has worked at Unite Students since 2019, returning to the company after a temping stint five years earlier.
Q: Tell us what a typical day in the life of a Service and Sales Advisor might look like at Unite Students.
A: No two days are the same at Unite Students. One day you can be swamped with so many tasks, and at other times it can be relatively quiet. I love the blend, as you’re never going to be swamped throughout the whole week.
Usually, a normal day for a Service and Sales Advisor starts with us arriving at reception, going through each block of the building, and checking the fire panels just to make sure everything’s ok. Then we briefly check our ECIL reports – which log out-of-hours incidents, and allow any issues to be effectively handed over – and get cracking on our emails. However, I have to have my morning coffee; I can’t function without it!
I work across two buildings. My role at Wellington Lodge is more focused on room sales, whereas Moonraker Point is operated through an agreement with Kings College London, so I can focus more on customer service and how I interact with the students. That customer interaction is one of the highlights of the role; you’re speaking to students constantly, whether it’s in person or by phone. It allows you to be yourself with the student – obviously you have to be professional, but there are times when you can share your own wisdom and knowledge with them.
What’s your favourite part about working at Unite Students?
It’s meeting the students and speaking to them – I really relish it. Welcome Week is a really exciting time for me; for this year’s check-ins, no word of a lie, I was so excited I barely slept! The interaction is the best part of the job. I love meeting all the different characters and learning more about them.
I even look forward to small things like lock-outs. It gives you the opportunity to talk to the student, find out how their course is going, and build that relationship. If it’s a student you’ve never spoken to before, it’s a great opportunity to start speaking to them; hopefully they’ll then feel more comfortable coming to the reception.
Service and Sales Advisors also get to give kitchen talks, where we get everyone who’s in an en-suite room sat down in the kitchen and ask how they’re settling in, go over a few rules of the building, and let them know where they can find us if they need anything. I really enjoy small interactions like these, because you get those insights into students’ lives.
One more thing – I would also say my colleagues. We have a great, diverse team of colleagues here, and we all come from different backgrounds; it’s nice to have that kind of diversity within the team. It’s important to have a great team behind you to know that you’re fully supported which, working at Unite Students, you always feel you are.
What’s the thing that surprised you the most about working at Unite?
Sometimes we have students that don’t know how to cook and clean for themselves! I had a fantastic experience at Wellington Lodge: one of the students didn’t know how to cook anything and was constantly ordering takeaway. I said, “Do you know what – I’ve got a bit of spare time in the office, so let me show you how to make a few dishes.” So I showed him how to make a couple of dishes, including jollof rice – one of my traditional national dishes. He loved it, and a couple of weeks later, he surprised me by making jollof rice himself and sharing it with me.
I was astounded – I wasn’t expecting anything, but it would have made my mum proud if she had tasted it! It was a really nice surprise that he’d gone to that effort. Without wanting to sound vain, it made me feel proud that I was able to share that knowledge with a student, and for him to take it on board and make the dish for me.
That’s a great story – and good to know that the student can now make his own meals! Do you have any other examples of bonding with students?
So, I’m quite a big gamer. Around Christmas last year, one of the students came down every day to ask if his parcel had been delivered. Finally it arrived, and it was humungous. I was curious to find out what was inside, so I asked – and he said it was a PS5. I was amazed; they were so hard to get hold of at the time!
He was so excited, but he also knew I was into gaming, so he asked if I wanted to play some games on it with him… of course I did! He brought it down to the common room and we played Grand Theft Auto, which is one of my favourite games, and an American football game. It was great – it’s the only time I’ve had the chance to play on a PS5 so far.
He’s still living in London having finished uni, and he pops in every now and then and asks how we’re doing.
You mentioned that you work across two buildings, Wellington Lodge and Moonraker Point. How different are they?
There’s a different mix of students at both. At Wellington Lodge, a lot of our students are international students, many of them postgraduates. Whereas in Moonraker Point, there’s a mix; it’s heavily first year students. Occasionally we get second- and third-year students who come and stay with us again, which we love, because it’s a familiar face.
I don’t have a preference, but I love the interaction with international students at Wellington Lodge. I sometimes ask them to teach me how to speak a bit of their language. I think it’s important to know how to speak their language a little bit, as it’s obviously frightening to come to London for the first time, and knowing a few words surprises them but also makes them feel a bit more safe and welcome. I’ve greeted Chinese students in Mandarin before and, even though some of them are wearing face masks, you can see the smile beaming through; they’re not expecting someone from a different culture to speak their language.
The buildings, and the students, are great in general.
What would you say to someone who was interested in being a Service and Sales Advisor at Unite Students?
If there’s anyone interested in going for the Service and Sales Advisor role, definitely go for it! No two days are the same, your team is fantastic, and you’ll always be fully supported by your Operations Managers and Area Managers. There’s a genuine excitement I feel coming into work every day.
I temped for the company in 2014, and after I graduated in 2019, Unite Students was the only place I felt comfortable working in and I genuinely wanted to come back. I applied for the role and one of my supervisors, Luca, phoned me – I was so happy to hear his voice! He asked how I felt about coming back, and I said, “Just tell me when and where and I’ll be there straight away!”
I’ve enjoyed every minute that I’ve been back. I’ve been slowly trying to progress my role a little bit further by taking on new challenges, recently signing up to join the welfare team. I’ve always been interested in that – my background is in psychology and sociology, so being a welfare lead is a great opportunity for me to start putting my studies into practice at work.
It always feels like there’s room for progression in this company; I’ve known Service and Sales Advisors who’ve progressed to being a supervisor and then an Operations Manager. You can work your way up and up and up. It’s an exciting company to work for!
You can watch our previous Day in the Life video, with Student Support Manager Jenny Dalzell, here.