Two students majoring in hospitality and tourism management at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff recently participated in the National Society of Minorities in Hospitality's annual conference and career expo at Miami.
During the conference, Trenay Hayes, a junior, and Stephanie Smith, a senior, were able to network with industry leaders and interview for internships, said Suzzette Goldmon, Ph.D., assistant professor and coordinator for UAPB's hospitality and tourism management program.
After interviewing with several companies at the conference, Hayes accepted a summer internship with Hyatt Hill Country Resort and Spa in San Antonio, Texas. "My biggest takeaway from the experience was that you shouldn't be afraid to be yourself and stand out," she said.
"Employers want you to display your talents because they are looking at what you can bring to the table." Hayes said she hopes to pursue a career in the hotel industry, food and beverage industry or in event planning.
"Making others happy is a huge part of hospitality, and that's really the best part of any hospitality job," she said.Smith interviewed with Aramark, the food service, facilities and uniform services provider.
"The interview experience was great," she said. "I actually already completed a summer internship with Aramark and was able to speak about that experience. The Aramark representatives I spoke with were happy to hear that my summer internship was a success for me and that I knew about the company."
Smith said she chose to major in hospitality and tourism management because she has always loved to cook, travel and entertain people. "You have to be a people person in this industry," she said. "Someday I would love to have a career as the owner of an event center and maybe own a fine dining restaurant."
Goldmon said the National Society of Minorities in Hospitality is well known for connecting students with the entire hospitality industry.
This year's conference was hosted by Florida International University's Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, a great example of a well-established program model, she said.
"I was extremely pleased UAPB students had the opportunity to participate in the conference this year," she said. "This was their first opportunity since the pandemic to meet and speak with professionals and other students in person."
Goldmon said the annual conference is not limited to participants from historically Black colleges and universities, but is open to all hospitality majors, including those from primarily white universities.
The occasion was opportune for sharing UAPB program successes and interacting with students from institutions such as the University of California, Cornell University and Morgan State University.
Students of other disciplines such as agriculture, business, accounting, marketing and finance also regularly participate in the conference because of the opportunity to gain paid internships of full-time employment.
Besides making sure her students attend industry conferences, Goldmon also introduces them to her former students who are now industry leaders and college advisors. "It is important that our current students network with those who already have experience and can help direct them toward promising opportunities," she said.
"One of my former students is now the general manager of a boutique hotel group and regularly offers students paid internships."
For more information about UAPB's hospitality and tourism management program, contact Goldmon at email@example.com.
Will Hehemann is a writer/editor with the UAPB School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences.