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25th annual Hospitality Business Management Career Fair

Opportunities in hospitality

Photo by Evan Krape

Lerner hospitality students meet and greet hospitality businesses, industry

Inside the University of Delaware’s Trabant University Center Multipurpose Rooms, hospitality management students walked through the 25th annual Hospitality Business Management Career Fair, stopping in front of the various booths to speak with company recruiters that piqued their interest. One of those students was sophomore hospitality major Amanda MacIntyre.

MacIntyre’s strategy for success? “You have to cycle in and out to keep yourself organized and level headed. I’m on my third cycle right now, just stepping out every few minutes to reset after each of my interactions.”

During her time at the fair, MacIntyre spoke with Clark Associates, Wawa and American Cruise Lines among others, looking for an internship for the summer before going on a study abroad in the fall.

“There’s a lot of opportunity here; it’s a really great networking event,” MacIntyre said. “I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for something in the industry.”

Students had the entire day to meander through the booths and speak to the various companies in attendance, like Aramark, Bozzuto Group, High 5 Hospitality, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, Lettuce Entertain You Restaurants and Marriott International.

Finally, students had the opportunity to interview for positions with the recruiters and companies who were in attendance.

Industry forum      

The career fair featured an industry forum with Shelly Weir of the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) and Jay Stieber of the National Restaurant Association.

Weir, senior vice president of career development for AHLA, spoke first.

“I work very closely with the human resource directors from all of the major national hotel chains and management companies, so I’m always grilling them for information about what they’re looking for in the hiring process,” Weir said. “It’s my role to impart some of that wisdom on you here today.”

Weir went on to describe AHLA’s roles, both as a national trade association that represents the U.S. lodging industry and as a leader in U.S. hospitality research and education. AHLA has over 50 percent of the nation’s hotels as members, and representatives from nine of the 10 national chains serve on AHLA’s board of directors.

“This is really an exciting time for us,” Weir said. “We are growing at a very rapid pace, which means there are great jobs available for you out there. We are very proud to say our industry is 72,000 jobs ahead of its peak.”

At the end of her presentation, Weir offered her top five bits of wisdom to succeed in the industry:

1. Don’t be afraid to start at the bottom and work your way up.

2. Identify and showcase your skills.

3. Identify your story.

4. Understand the power of social media.

5. Know what is going on.

Finally, Weir also offered a bonus sixth piece of advice: Be willing to move, she said. Companies will often want to promote from within, so anyone in the industry can move up faster if he or she is willing to relocate for a promotion.

The next speaker was Stieber, executive vice president of Lettuce Entertain You and vice president of the National Restaurant Association.

“Last year was Lettuce Entertain You’s first exposure to your program, and we were very impressed by the caliber of the students and with the quality of your program,” Stieber said.

“You are the people who are going to change the face of our industry,” he continued. “It’s an exciting time to be a part of the restaurant industry.”

According to Stieber, customers are wanting more and more out of the hospitality industry, and it is the job of upcoming hospitality leaders to be creative and come up with new ideas to satisfy customers.

“In more than 22 years in the business, I’ve concluded that the people who make up our industry are some of the best anywhere,” Stieber said. “We are a generous, creative industry.”

Stieber also discussed how the hospitality industry employs more minorities in high-level positions than any other industry.

“Our industry puts success in the hands of millions of people, helping people fulfill the American dream,” Stieber said.

Career fair

Glenn Zeitzer of Aramark has been attending this career fair for the past three years. He graduated from UD in 2002 and now works for Aramark at the University of Pennsylvania as the safety and training manager.

As a student, Zeitzer said, “The career fair allowed me to see everything that’s out there,” adding that it “really helped me find out what I wanted to do and certain things I didn’t want to do.”

On UD’s hospitality program, Zeitzer said it is a great foundation and he would recommend it for anyone hoping to enter the industry.

“It’s a great place to be,” Zeitzer said.

Izzy Shaindlin, recruiting coordinator of Lettuce Entertain You Restaurants, attended the career fair for the first time this year.

Shaindlin worked at a Lettuce Entertain You restaurant during high school and college and returned to work in the hospitality industry after graduating when she realized she preferred it over other career paths.

“It’s great to share the passion with others, [and let them] know that I started out in their shoes,” Shaindlin said. “We’re definitely interested in anyone, from front of house to back of house to culinary talent.”

Though she did not attend UD, Shaindlin said she has heard great things about its hospitality program.

“We’ve definitely heard about [UD] over the past few years as being one of those top schools, especially [for recruiting for our restaurants in] the D.C. area,” Shaindlin said.

Kristel Hartsky, manager trainee of Waffle House, graduated from UD in 2016. In the near future, Hartsky looks forward to running her own Waffle House restaurant.

With Hartsky was Steven Peters of Waffle House, who oversees 12 restaurants as a human resources manager.

“This program is amazing, UD has great students and they’re always really well prepared,” Peters said. He added that Waffle House’s senior vice president is a UD alumnus who is excited about being involved with the University.

Interviews

After the career fair, some of the businesses offered students interviews with their companies while the recruiters were on campus. The Bozzuto Group was one of those companies, and Tankia Ferguson, a senior hospitality major, interviewed with the company for a position in sales and marketing when she graduates this May.

“I think it went well,” Ferguson said. “It was definitely interesting speaking with them and finding out how they view the company and what their position entailed.”

After speaking with the Bozzuto recruiter, Ferguson said she knows a career in sales or marketing with them would align with her career goals.

So how did it go? Abriel Corsey of the Bozzuto Group works as a talent adviser and recruiter for sales and management positions, and Ferguson was among six or seven students that Corsey interviewed after the fair.

“It went really well,” Corsey said. “I think she was energetic and excited. She comes highly recommended… and we specifically have been hiring a lot of University of Delaware students. The hospitality program is really in line with what Bozzuto looks for, and it’s been really successful for us.”


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