Order up: Internship with a side of celebrity

Jaclyn Dixon

Students in hospitality management are getting the opportunity to travel through the United States to fulfill their internship requirements at fun and exotic places.

Senior hospitality management major Amber Walley has been working this summer at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Walley mingled with celebrities during MGM Grand’s hosting of the 41st Annual Country Music Awards in May. She had the opportunity to serve some of the biggest names in country music at the event.

Senior hospitality management major Donald Price is serving his internship at the Marriott Ko Olna Beach Club in Hawaii, where his daily activities include working a Hawaiian luau, introducing a new poolside grill to owners and guests and working at Kolohe’s Beachside Restaurant.

Positions in hospitality management are on the rise and are expected to grow by as much as 16 percent in the next two years. These jobs can lead to high paying positions in the lodging, travel and food service industries.

“It’s an industry where people provide food and lodging away from home in any capacity to other people,” said assistant professor Rob Heiman.

The faculty helps students with the business component of the industry. In order to succeed, students have to develop a positive hospitality attitude.

“These internships give students the opportunity to learn from the companies they’re working for,” Heiman said. “Students offer the company the knowledge they’ve gained through the courses in hospitality management.”

Before students are able to obtain an internship in hospitality management, they must fulfill a minimum of 400 work hours in entry-level positions in their field.

Sometimes it’s not easy.

Junior hospitality management major Emily Christescu wanted to go into resort management, but couldn’t find an internship. All of that changed when manager and former hospitality management student Nichole Cenkner and former general manager Mike Benson of Liberty Steakhouse and Brewery came to the hospitality management classes and did a presentation about their company.

After expressing interest in an internship, Christescu got an internship working in Myrtle Beach as a manager in training at Liberty Steakhouse and Brewery.

Christescu trained for two weeks in order to learn all aspects of how the restaurant is managed. As part of her training, she had to serve as a hostess, a bartender and a waitress. Her daily responsibilities include opening and closing the store, setting up the register and making sure employees are doing specific tasks.

The biggest challenge Christescu faced was getting the servers to take her seriously.

“It’s hard being in a management position at my age,” 21-year-old Christescu said.

Most of the servers are the same age as Christescu and in the beginning didn’t want to listen to what she had to say. Christescu found there to be a fine line between being the servers’ friends and being an authority figure.

Students can obtain these internship opportunities through alumni who have worked in the industry, student contacts, calls from the industry to Kent State and the student association of Club Managers Association of America.

Heiman says he tries to have as much involvement with his students during their internships as possible.

“As often as possible, I have the privilege to see my students at their internship sites and help monitor their experience,” Heiman said.

Contact Colleges of Business and Education reporter Jaclyn Dixon at [email protected].