Internships in the Hospitality Industry

What Students Want and What the Industry Needs

By Leora Halpern Lanz President, LHL Communications | June 04, 2017

Co-authored by Jovanna Fazzini, Assistant Director of Finance and Accounting, Boston Marriott Cambridge Hotel

Hospitality schools and industry professionals have been working together to provide internship experiences that introduce students to different sectors of the hospitality industry, as well as expose students to the corporate culture and skills required by companies the student could eventually work with post-graduation. But if industry professionals and students are to leverage one another's abilities and resources for a successful internship experience, understanding underlying desires and motivations is key.

The Student Perspective: What do Students and Recent Hospitality Grads Want in an Internship?

Today's hospitality students pursue internships to test the waters of an industry segment for which they are interested in working post-graduation. For example, Oliver Tang, recent Cornell Hospitality graduate and now analyst at Horwath HTL in Atlanta, knew the company presented an ideal internship opportunity for him, thanks to his interests in feasibility and development planning.

"I had recognized my strengths and interests in development planning while taking a feasibility class at Cornell," shares Oliver. "So before I connected with Horwath HTL I had an idea that this was something I wanted to do. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to live as an industry professional in development planning through assisting in feasibility studies."

Yoshihiro Kanno, recent graduate of Florida International University and former analyst with HVS in Chicago, also pursued the internship to test the waters of his field of interest- consulting and valuation services. Yoshihiro also noted his ability to grasp the corporate culture while interning. "The culture attracts intelligent and motivated individuals. I am challenged every day, and the environment is extremely supportive. Everyone is always willing to help."

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Mobile Technology: The Future is Now

Mobile Technology continues to advance at a relentless pace and the hotel industry continues to adapt. Hotel guests have shown a strong preference for mobile self-service - from checking-in/out at a hotel kiosk, to ordering room service, making dinner reservations, booking spa treatments, and managing laundry/dry cleaning services. And they also enjoy the convenience of paying for these services with smart phone mobile payments. In addition, some hotels have adopted a “concierge in your pocket” concept. Through a proprietary hotel app, guests can access useful information such as local entertainment venues, tourist attractions, event calendars, and medical facilities and services. In-room entertainment continues to be a key factor, as guests insist on the capacity to plug in their own mobile devices to customize their entertainment choices. Mobile technology also allows for greater marketing opportunities. For example, many hotels have adopted the use of “push notifications” - sending promotions, discounts and special event messages to guests based on their property location, purchase history, profiles, etc. Near field communication (NFC) technology is also being utilized to support applications such as opening room doors, earning loyalty points, renting a bike, accessing a rental car, and more. Finally, some hotels have adopted more futuristic technology. Robots are in use that have the ability to move between floors to deliver room service requests for all kinds of items - food, beverages, towels, toothbrushes, chargers and snacks. And infrared scanners are being used by housekeeping staff that can detect body heat within a room, alerting staff that the room is occupied and they should come back at a later time. The January Hotel Business Review will report on what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in this exciting mobile technology space.