For underclassmen and even some seniors on college campuses, winter signals the time to seek out highly coveted summer internships that will launch successful careers beyond graduation.
At Niagara University's College of Hospitality & Tourism Management, internships are a vital part of the curriculum. They are also unique to Niagara where students often go to exotic and exciting locations to work at world-class hotels and resorts, a far cry from many internships that require students to sit in offices answering phones and making copies.
Each year, several of Niagara hospitality students work at five-star resorts on Lake Como, Italy (the world famous Villa d'Este for the Lake Como Work Abroad Program), in Cusco, the gateway city to Machu Picchu students study and intern at 5 star hotels, (part of the Peru Cultural Immersion Program). Other luxury level internships may be found at elite country clubs like the Columbia Country Club in Chevy Chase, Maryland and the Cherokee Town and Country Club in Atlanta, Georgia. There is a German dual degree program that requires students to study for a year abroad in Bad Honnef, Germany and with completion of all course requirements and thesis earn the student two degrees.
With tourism becoming one of the fastest growing industries where career advancement is both relatively quick and lucrative for students, many studentsare pursuing a BA in Hospitality & Tourism Management that will bring them success in a short period of time, thanks largely to their internships that offer hands-on experience prior to degree completion.
Graduating seniors at NU have a near 100% placement rate and entry level positions can range from $35,000 up to $58,000 per year. They are almost never bored.
One example of an NU hospitality internship is the 10-week program at Villa d'Este, a five-star resort knows as the "Hollywood on Lake Como." Students, after studying at least one year of Italian, learn superior customer service skills while experiencing a different culture. Dr. Kurt Stahura, dean of the College of Hospitality and Tourism Management notes that "our students who participate in the Lake Como program are highly recruited by the best employers in the industry."
NU Student Monica Smith participated this past summer in the Peru Cultural Immersion program. For three months she interned in the hospitality industry, working in hotels in both Lima and Cusco, Peru. While interning, she rotated into different departments including housekeeping, front desk, events, kitchen, restaurant, and bar.
When asked how this was a unique experience, Monica replied: "I went to South America to not only study but also to work alongside the local people. I went on adventurous excursions like trekking 50 miles to Machu Picchu and white water rafting in the rivers of the Amazon jungle. I'd say that's pretty unique for a college student."
Does she think her internship experience will help jump start her career? "My experiences in Peru challenged me to become a better and more open person because many of the things I did were so outside of my comfort zone. Learning to communicate better and adapting to change quickly were other great tools that I acquired. With all the great things I learned I know I'll be able to tackle my future jobs with ease and also work better with people."