On March 8, the Department of Hospitality Management, a unit under the Division of Food Systems and Bioengineering, continued the tradition of providing networking opportunities to connect eager students with future employers. Student volunteers and industry professionals joined together to help the next generation of hospitality employees learn more about transitioning into the field.
The day began at 9 a.m. with the start of the industry panels. Until noon, students picked from topics in conference and event management, food and beverage, lodging management, and sport venue management. Each panel had at least four industry professionals along with two student moderators to facilitate. These question and answer sessions gave attendees a look into the day-to-day activities of various sectors of the hospitality industry.
Conference & Event Management panelists were: Katrina Burlison, Ballpark Village; Marilyn Freundlich, POPtions!; Holly Jurgensen, ILEA; Nicole Jenkins, Palladium St. Louis; Julie Krull, Destination St. Louis; Ashley Patrick, Intalere. The student moderators were Megan Lorbert and Val Luu.
The Sport Venue Management panelists were: Jeremy Alumbaugh, general manager of St. Louis Football Club; Jim Wynkoop of Chafeitz Arena in St. Louis; Coleen Lamond, associate athletic director for facilities for Mizzou Athletics; and Claire Prather, business development coordinator of the Kansas City Chiefs. Student moderators were Quincey Copple and Baylin Petrillo. Approximately 130 students were in attendance to learn from the experiences of the distinguished panelists. The hospitality management department thanks Coleen Lamond for allowing the department to host the event at the Columns Club at Memorial Stadium.
The Food and Beverage panel session hosted four professionals from the restaurant industry. The panelists were Anne Conway, corporate director of training and development, Lodging Hospitality Management in St. Louis; Vic Allred, founder and owner of Jazz Louisiana Kitchen, headquartered in Kansas City; Richard Walls, co-owner of The Heidelberg Restaurant in Columbia; and Susan Dayton, manager, Computing and Recruiting Resources, MU Campus Dining Service. The student moderators were Savannah Austin and Nicole Finn. With the unique industry background of the panelists, students learned that seemingly small life experiences will matter in their future. Several students shared their background and received advice from the panelists regarding career development.
Lodging Management panelists were: Joseph P. Bauer, Rooms Operations Voyager, Chicago Marriott Oak Brook; Stacy Simpson, HR Director at Curio by Hilton, Lodging Hotel Management; Tim Combs, Director of Human Resources of Hyatt Regency St. Louis at The Arch; and Dwayne Adams, Director of Operations, Argosy Casino Hotel & Spa, Kansas City. Student moderators were Deirdre Harman and Sami Foreman. About 70 hospitality management students attended the panel discussion. The panel discussed management positions and how recent graduates need to be realistic on first job expectations. It is common in the hospitality industry for employees to start in front line positions and work their way up to management positions. Students asked mainly about strategies and tips for hiring in the hotel industry such as desired characteristics of job candidates. They also asked the panelists about trends and challenges the hotel industry faces and will face. The topic of Airbnb was brought up and how it was affecting business volumes in each of the panelists’ hotel properties.
That afternoon, representatives from 30 companies set up booths and met with hospitality management students in Eckles Hall. Students were able to investigate different opportunities for future careers and internships and industry professionals were able to give advice and make connections with potential employees.
In addition to attending, some students hosted the events of the day as part of their conference and events management capstone course.
Senior Jill Murray, who played a hand in planning and executing the fair, believes in the project not only because of her role in developing it, but also because she managed to snag an internship for herself from the fair. Following her communications with The Raymond Group at the fall 2015 and spring 2016 career fairs, she received an internship with the company and worked at The Hilton Garden Inn Chicago O’Hare over the summer of 2016.
“It has really furthered my professional development and has really helped me network with a ton of different people from all different industries,” Murray said of the fair.
In return, the companies in attendance receive personal access to possible interns and employees.
Courtland Gerhart (B.S. ’16), food and beverage manager at Hallbrook Country Club in Leawood, Kansas found an additional benefit to attending as a company representative.
“It’s great to be able to come back to my alma mater and be able to teach students … and even being able to guide them through the transition of becoming a student to a full-time employee,” Gerhart said. As he handed out his business cards he stressed, “If you need to talk about that transition process feel free to text me because I know it’s difficult.”
Gerhart summed up the day saying, “Being able to come back and help students … is just worthwhile.”