Hospitality mentoring program teaches students professionalism

Dwayne Yates

Course gives lessons in management skills

Thanks to his mentor, Bob Purdy, senior hospitality management major, already has a job in his field before graduation.

Purdy got the job when his mentor, Roger Greene, told him about an opening at the desk of the Hilton location he works at as general manager. Purdy visited the hotel when he shadowed Greene, who took him through a day in the life of a hotel general manager.

“His job is very interesting,” Purdy said. “He’s always talking to guests. The whole morning he was dealing with issues with staff and talking to staff. He was always out checking on the hotel, doing a lot of talking to guests and employees and not a lot of deskwork. I like that.”

Purdy and Greene met through the hospitality management department’s mentorship program.

Purdy said he joined the program to meet professionals in his field, gain knowledge and possibly find a job. He didn’t only find that job he was looking for, he also said his catalog of contacts is filling up as well.

“I think it is a good thing for students to be able to talk to someone with experience in hospitality management,” Greene said. “We value them being in school studying hospitality management.”

Hospitality management major Ashley Harshman is new to the program. She joined the program for reasons similar to Purdy’s.

“I wanted a mentor for the fact that I would know someone in the hospitality profession that I could ask questions; that would have been hard to find on my own,” Harshman said. “A mentor will also help give me advice as to where I could look for a job.”

Hospitality management professor Ning Kuang Chuang is on the committee that runs the program. Chuang said the sooner students in hospitality management know what field they are going into, the better off they will be because they are already professionals in college.

Barbara Scheule, hospitality management coordinator, who is also on the committee, agreed with Chuang.

“In our industry, if you want to position yourself to the best advantage, it is best to develop professional habits early,” Scheule said. “When you interview, it will be comfortable for you to be professional.”

Students and mentors go through orientation before they meet during a reception the committee sets up. This year the reception was set up like speed dating. Mentors sat at different tables, and every seven minutes the students alternated tables. This enabled students to meet every mentor who attended the reception.

Harshman became interested in other hospitality fields by meeting the mentors, but she’s happy with her field.

“(The speed mentoring) allowed me to hear what each mentor was about briefly and if they piqued my interest to definitely ask for their business card,” Harshman said. “I was nervous because that could potentially be one of my employers someday.”

Contact College of Education, Heath and Human Services reporter Dwayne Yates at [email protected].