ATHENS – When Connor Logan graduates in Hospitality and Food Industry Management from the University of Georgia, he will have extensive knowledge of his chosen field and hands-on experience in food and beverage service, responsibilities of reception, revenue management, sales and events – all essentials of running a great hotel.
And he will have been paid for the experience, as an internship at the UGA Center for Continuing Education & Hotel.
“I was able to spend time in several departments and get a good understanding of what it takes to run a hotel,” said Logan, a fourth-year student considering a career in hotel management.
The UGA Hospitality and Food Industry Management Major at the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences is a one-stop-shop for academics and real-world opportunities, ensuring graduates know not only what they’re supposed to do , but also how to do it. Their hands-on learning takes place at the Georgia Center, where they can learn about all aspects of hotel, conference center, and restaurant management.
“Our role is to create opportunities for students to have an internship experience here early in their studies, which allows them to have a course and work here,” said Stacy Jones, director of the Georgia Center. “Whether they are assigned to an internship in the restaurant industry, hospitality or special events, they are able to gain experience that they can add to their portfolio. “
Launched in 2019, the program had 79 students enrolled in fall 2021, well ahead of its three-year goal of 55 students.
The hospitality and tourism industry is the second economic engine of the state. It generated nearly $ 69 billion in 2019, but declined by $ 2.8 million (16.8%) between February 2020 and May 2021 due to the pandemic. However, as the market rebounds, businesses will need trained employees.
The internship program at Georgia Center gives students the opportunity to explore different aspects of the hospitality program and determine where they want to focus. Students must complete 400 credit hours of internship as part of the program requirements.
Georgia Center employees also join students in the classroom, offering real data they can analyze and evaluate. For example, students in the Hotel Sales and Revenue Management course were able to examine data collected before COVID that showed food costs and what drove them up. The students then developed three cost reduction strategies to share with the Georgia Center.
“With the hospitality and tourism industry being the second largest economic generator in the state of Georgia, being able to offer these educational opportunities and the opportunity to gain a working understanding of the nuances of the industry is a very important niche for us, ”John Salazar, Host Program Coordinator and Associate Professor in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics at CAES, said.
“I started as an intern at the Georgia Center in the fall of 2020 and the hotel was actually closed (due to COVID),” Hunt said. “But I still learned a lot and worked with a lot of different people in the departments here, which helped me in my next internship.”
From there, Hunt completed a 2021 summer internship with the DeSoto Hotel in Savannah. This semester, she is back at the Georgia Center to work in reception. She said she hopes to work at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel after graduation.
Maya Dubos, in her first semester in the host program, was not eligible for an internship until she had completed two courses to introduce her to the major. So she accepted a student job at the Georgia Center, starting as a banquet manager. Dubos says she has always been interested in event management and wanted to learn more about catering.
“Having the opportunity to gain work experience in an on-campus hotel while continuing my education is why the program appealed to me,” Dubos said. “They understand that you are also a student and work with your schedule. Nowhere else are you going to find something like this, where they really want you to grow up and learn and want you to be successful after you graduate.
“The Georgia Center is that feather in our cap,” Salazar said. “They give our students a better understanding of the hospitality industry and having that nib really helps us support our growth. “
Learn more about the Hospitality and Food Management Diploma at agecon.uga.edu