With a wealth of experience in the hospitality sector, he is much more than just a residence manager. Meet François Seret, the passionate YouFirst Manager of YouFirst Campus Lille, and hear what he had to say about the young customers he looks after.
Before I arrived at YouFirst Campus, I was the manager of 3- and 4-star hotels. Customer service and being welcoming and courteous are in my DNA. This is essential for our customer profile: young people between the ages of 20 and 22, most of whom are living away from their parents for the first time and need genuine support. I am here to guarantee the quality of our services and the security and maintenance of communal areas like any residence manager, but my role is much more than that — I need to have knowledge and availability to help them out.
There is no typical day, no time to get bored in a residence with 238 apartments and 70% of its students coming from all around the world! I am constantly changing how I use my time just to suit their needs. I help them with sorting things out remotely before their arrival and I’m here to welcome them when they do arrive (the welcome drinks event is often fun). Then throughout their stay, I am an advisor, a helping hand, and event a translator for some! I never tire of the wealth of interactions I have with them.
Good Wi-Fi and hot water! Jokes aside, they are mostly looking for someone to talk to. As many of them are arriving from abroad, I help them with paperwork as soon as the lease is drawn up: I can help them open a bank account or take out housing insurance, I attend their check-in inventory, I respond to their requests for services such as our Welcome Box or TV rental and more. Sometimes, I even help them with their luggage because they often have five or six suitcases — that really reassures them. The idea is to make their arrival on check-in day as easy as possible, since it’s often a source of stress for students.
The residents come from Japan, Brazil, the US and all over — you could say that it’s a cultural melting pot every day. Friendships quickly develop in areas such as the laundry room or lounge, around the foosball table, giant screen or shared library. The residents also really enjoy the events. It really is a wonderful moment for a Chinese student to discover the Galette des Rois (kings’ cake) tradition! And the fitness area is very important to them too, although it is a little more complicated due to Covid. Some are STAPS (science and technology in sports and exercise) students and have shared passions — cycling, for example.
We are fortunate to be located in the very centre of Lille, a very vibrant university city. It is an environment that gives them a feeling of freedom from the first week. The advice I always give them is to be well organised. Find the right balance between studying, going out and leading a healthy lifestyle. But this generally goes well and they quickly find their feet. It’s often their parents who need reassuring. It’s not uncommon for them to call me for news!