Alex Blencowe/ Staff Writer
Network, connect, bridge or socialize — that’s what hotel managers, restaurateurs and members of Chaplin clubs advised budding students at this year’s Hospitality Day.
On Wednesday, Sept. 17, the Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management hosted Hospitality Day in the Restaurant Management Lab.
Students got the chance to meet with professionals in the field who offered advice on internships and tips on getting your foot in the door.
“Dive in. Make as many connections as you can,” said Nourbese Joseph, director of people services at Thompson Hotels. “It’s not about the hotels or the buildings. It’s about the people and making that personal connection.”
Student Event Planners Association, Turnberry Hotel Associates, B.R.E.W. FIU, High Speed Rail America, and the Four Seasons were among the 60 plus companies present.
Demitrius Villa, an international business junior, was at the event to gather research and promote High Speed Rail America, a group dedicated to change what they claim to be slow, outdated and expensive railroad systems across America.
“What people don’t know is that there are bullet train systems in Japan and Germany that have been running continuously for years,” said Villa. “Our first priority is gathering hospitality students who can change this business and make this dream a reality.”
Director of Talent Acquisition Mark W. King and General Manager at Fisher Island Colin Scarlett, spoke about preparing for a career with CSI Management Services.
“Most condominiums run like hotels these days,” said Scarlett. “It demands a lot more, so people who are trained in hospitality have a good combination of skills they can use to ‘climb the ladder.’”
King said adding value to buildings and creating that “high-end brand” among property managers takes a lot of dedication, and a valid Community Associates Management Degree.
“It’s rare to find applicants who have a CAM license and a degree, so it’s a way to differentiate yourself from others,” said King.
Students were able to meet with professionals from various hotel chains that stressed applying for internships, even the ones that may not necessarily fit one’s ideal job description.
Femke De Groot, assistant restaurant manager for Hilton Hotels & Resorts, said bosses want workers who are willing to work hard and put their all into their career. For this reason, De Groot and her business partner helped students improve their resumes.
“Try to do everything you can to broaden your knowledge,” said De Groot.
“Always put more details on your resume, like where you volunteer, if you’ve done work at a homeless shelter, if you’re willing to travel to different locations for a company,” De Groot said. “It tells a lot about a person and what kind of character they have.”
Hospitality management junior Shai-Lea Penta never thought she would hold a degree in Baking and Pastry Arts from the Culinary Institute of America six years ago.
“You never know what will happen. The sky is not the limit,” said Penta, who encourages students to follow their dreams.
Beatrice Correa, a public relations junior and Study Abroad representative, said the most important thing to remember is to build connections and expose oneself to different businesses.
“You’re not going to get there by just going to classes,” Correa said. “It’s so important to get involved and put yourself out there.”
Apart from getting an opportunity to network, students were given free pizza if they had their event cards punched by at least four tables.
Scarlett of CSI Management Services said, “Put your foot in the door while you’re still in school. Managers look for students who have that exposure and experience.”