How to land a great hospitality internship
To get your start in the hospitality field, having real-world college internship experience is a must. Such experience demonstrates your skills and commitment to prospective employers and can help you build valuable, real-world skills and make invaluable connections.
In such a competitive environment, how can you score a quality internship? How do you connect with people in your industry? What resources can be most helpful along the way? To start your job hunt, search through our database of available internships at www.hcareers.com.
Suzanne Markham-Bagnera, Ph.D., clinical assistant professor at Boston University’s School of Hospitality Administration, also suggests that guest speakers are a great place to start.
“In my classes, I frequently bring in speakers from the industry to talk to a specific aspect of the learning objectives in my course. After the speaking session, I provide a break, which allows students the opportunity to connect with the speaker afterwards. Many students will ask for an email address and follow-up themselves,” says Bagnera. This can be a great way to develop useful connections with industry insiders who may one day be able to help you secure a position or even write a letter of recommendation when you apply for an internship.
Involvement in clubs and organizations is another top tip for landing a hands-on work experience.
“Look to see what your school offers and get involved,” says Bagnera. “Organizations that have hospitality related focus would give you greater networking opportunities. When you connect with faculty, sometimes they are involved in these organizations as members themselves and serve on committees where they need student volunteers to assist with events and/or conferences.” Organizations of interest include Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI), National Society of Minorities in Hospitality (NSMH), Diner’s Club and National Association for Catering and Event (NACE).
Connecting with your school’s career services and/or internship office is another wise bet. “Ask for assistance, direction. Sometimes it’s the squeaky wheel that gets the oil; or a student gets a job,” says Bagnera.
Connecting with your Academic Advisor is also recommended, says Bagnera. “This person is assigned to you, so use their knowledge. Make an appointment and talk about your goals and ask for advice.”
Your Alumni Relations department is worth making a trip to. “These staff members are connection with recent and former alumni in the industry,” says Bagnera.
Bagnera’s additional internship-hunting tips:
Chat up faculty. "Many faculty are still connected to the industry, either through alumni, friends, or consulting. When you find a connection in a class, reach out and open that dialogue. Faculty members get approached for openings to be filled all the time. When I know people are looking, it’s my personal mission to connect people."
Network. "Attending classes and connecting with professors is another aspect to focus on. Most industry people recognize the value for an internship, addressing that it’s the start to ones career in the industry. Endicott College, for example, requires internships (two) for every major in their program; it was the first college that went out on this limb. They put resources behind that commitment by offering each program at least one internship coordinator to assist students. At BU we require two internships and an international experience. So it is to be expected that the first experience is more of a shadowing type of opportunity to gain the exposure into the industry."