University’s Student Associate Program hosts countdown BBQ

Barbara Corbellini Duarte/Contributing Writer

Students will be able to get involved and sign up for the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival presented by Food & Wine Magazine on Jan 12. The Student Associate Program will host a welcome barbecue, “Reach the Beach: Count Down to the SOBE WFF.”

“It’s the first week of school, so maybe there are some people that are shy, but when it’s a friendly environment like that, it’s a lot easier for students to get to know each other, to get to know us and register for the festival,” said Vanessa Rajnish, senior, hospitality major and Student Associate Program apprentice.

The FIU Student Associate Program is an initiative designed to present FIU hospitality management students with the opportunity to network with professionals within the International Hospitality Industry, according to the event website.

The welcome back barbecue has happened in previous years; however, this is the first time it is primarily involved with SOBE WFF.

“We invited the event managers from the festival to come down, a lot of the key players that put together the festival will be there, so it’s a great opportunity to get face time with people that are going to be in South Beach, that are going to be mentoring you,” said Richard Joseph Lopez, MBA graduate student and Student Associate Program manager.

The event will have exclusive catering, barbecue, raffles and giveaways.   According to Lopez, they’re expecting to receive 500 to 700 people.

Students are encouraged to register and participate in the SOBE WFF. Among the 3,000 positions available are culinary, front of the house, back of the house, inventory, press and media.

“It’s something special that FIU has,” Lopez. said “If everybody would get involved with it, they can see what excellent opportunities they have to round out their academic experience because it will give them opportunity to get some solid industry experience from seeing a huge large skill event unfold right on the center of South Beach.”

The SOBE WFF will occur from Feb. 23 to 26. The deadline to register for positions is Jan 25. Students can sign up at the Student Associate Program Office, located in the Hospitality and Management building, room 249.

Even though priority is given to the hospitality students, the opportunity is open to all majors.

“So many students have gotten jobs out of the festival, so it’s a really great place for connections,” said Rajnish.

The welcome barbecue will take place on the Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management Patio.

“It’s great for us to talk to them and see in what they are interested in, so we can best match them with something that they would like to do and enjoy it,” said Rajnish.

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