Hospitality Internships

Wed, Apr 28, 2010

Internship Information

For people who enjoy providing gracious hospitality to others, and all the demands and headaches that can come along with that, the hospitality industry may be a perfect fit. There are a number of interesting and fun jobs within the hospitality industry, including hotel and restaurant management, event planning, marketing, and customer service. Hotels, restaurants, and resorts around the world offer internships for students who are seriously considering a career in the hospitality industry.

Step 1: Your Resume

The first step to obtaining any internship is to have the ideal resume employers will notice. If your campus has any sort of internship workshop or advisor, make sure you take full advantage in order to have the structure and details just right. It is also important to emphasize any relevant work you have in the hospitality industry. List any relevant classes you have taken or campus organizations you belong to. Also, remember that awful summer you were a golf caddy at the country club? Or the ice cream shop you worked at all of sophomore year? Those are no longer just ways to pay the bills, those were you entering the hospitality industry at the bottom rung of the proverbial career ladder. Highlight specific things you did at these jobs that are important at any hospitality job (customer service, extra shifts, etc.).

Step 2: Search Locally

The best place to start your internship search is locally. It is now time to talk with your professors, advisors, and classmates. Hospitality professors have seen hundreds of students go off to internships, and they have read full reports of how successful and beneficial they were. Use their knowledge to find the perfect internship for you, and then use their connections to submit your resume. Also, talk to older students who have already completed their internship. Find out what they liked, what they didn’t like, and (most importantly) how they got their internship in the first place.

Step 3: Look Online

Perhaps you dream bigger than spending your summer at your local Holiday Inn. Perhaps you have so much previous work experience that your resume could be your ticket to a dream summer internship abroad (or at least, out of state). If your internship plans take you outside your local community, your best bet is to look online. If you want to work in a specific area, simply Google “hospitality internships in _______.” If you want to work for a specific company, go to their website and see if they offer internships (usually listed under a “careers” or “employment” section). Even if they’re not listed on the website, many companies still hire interns. Contact the company briefly explaining your situation (a very condensed version of your cover letter will work), and ask who you should contact with your resume. Even if someone has never hired an intern before, it doesn’t mean you couldn’t be their first.

Online Resources

Check out Hilton’s website for college students for internship listings and see if the hotel company Westin will be stopping by your campus on their recruiting tour. Also, many universities host job boards for the hospitality industry featuring local and distant jobs. Boston University’s website is a great place to check, as well as your own school’s website.

Step 4: Send Out Your Resume

Make a list of your top choices for where you want to intern and then start sending out your resume. Make sure you have an appropriate cover letter that explains who you are, what you are looking for, and why you are interested in this particular company. It is crucial that you tailor your cover letter to each specific company, in order to stand out from all the other, impersonal applications they no doubt will be receiving.

Step 5: Follow-Up

Following up on your application can be challenging. Do it too soon, and you risk being annoying and pesky. Do it too late and you could miss the window of opportunity. Sometimes, it isn’t necessary to follow up at all (usually you will be expressly told not to follow up if this is the case). If you are vying for an internship that you heard of through a personal contact, it is a great idea to send a follow-up e-mail asking if they have had an opportunity to consider your resume. Stress that you heard great things about working for them from your friend/professor/advisor and are very interested in the position. The most important part of a follow-up is to actually give them time to read your resume, so wait at least a week (or even two) before following up. If the internship you applied for is one you found online, following up is still crucial.  If you don’t land a hospitality internship right away, consider working at a restaurant or at a hotel’s front desk. This industry specific experience is a good resume builder for future internships.

By Elizabeth Wolfe. Elizabeth can be reached at wolfeeli@msu.edu.

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