While students in the hospitality management degree program gain valuable insights into the second largest industry in the United States through their coursework, the hands-on learning opportunities offered through the program give students a first-hand, behind-the-scene look at this growing industry.
Those opportunities are plentiful through the Hotel and Lodging Operations and Management (HSP_MGMT 3400) course. Students spend the semester applying knowledge and theories learned in the classroom to actual industry settings.
“The hospitality industry is a very unique one,” said Seonghee Cho, associate professor and program chair of hospitality management. “There are so many intense interactions with customers, and you have to be ‘on’ at all times – no matter how you really feel. While we can teach a good amount of skills in the classroom, you can’t teach live interactions with frustrated customers. The best way to learn is to be in real-world situations.”
Cho, who teaches the course, brought in a handful of new partners this semester. A total of four hotels are helping students gain valuable hands-on experience: The Broadway – Doubletree by Hilton; Hampton Inn and Suites Columbia at the University of Missouri; Drury Plaza Hotel Columbia East; and Drury Inn and Suites Columbia Stadium Boulevard.
“The partnership with the hotels is something that I’ve wanted to incorporate into this course for a long time,” Cho said. “I’m so glad that each location stepped in and helped us out. Their willingness to help train our students is so exciting for our program.”
Each student will work in two of the four hotels throughout the semester. They spent the first seven weeks of the semester at one hotel and will spend the final six weeks at a different hotel.
“This is such a good opportunity for us to gain important experiences,” said Remi Levinson, a senior hospitality management major. “There’s really no way to explain hotels until you actually work in one. Things sometimes seem easy, but there’s so much that goes on that you don’t even think about.”
Levinson is currently employed by the Drury Plaza – and said that it was exciting to see how different hotels operate.
“It has been interesting to see what other spots do,” Levinson said. “I primarily work at the front desk with Drury, so it’s been fun to see what all goes on throughout a hotel with this course.”
Students have rotated through five departments at each hotel during the hands-on experience – front desk, housekeeping, maintenance, food and beverage, and business administration. They have shadowed individuals in each department to see the intricacies of the work that is being done.
“This experience has been like having an internship, without having an actual internship,” said Jasmin Watson, a junior studying hospitality management. “I have so much respect for those who do the behind-the-scenes tasks. There is a lot of work that goes on that people don’t see. I’ve gained a huge appreciation for everything that people do to keep hotels running.”
Cho said that along with the hands-on work, students in the course learn about other potential career paths, teamwork in the workplace and professionalism. They also gain an understanding of what it takes to work in the actual industry. It’s a vital course to help them see where their degree can take them.