Business students interested in entering the hospitality industry need
to be proactive in determining their career paths, says Eileen Williamson (BUS ’04), a talent acquisition specialist for Breakthru Beverage Group who recently
returned to DePaul, her alma mater, to meet students from the university’s
School of Hospitality Leadership. “We look for candidates who can see a path
for themselves, have that entrepreneurial spirit and are able to take the
lead on the direction they want to go,” she says.
Williamson was one of three recruiters representing Breakthru Beverage Group
during a hospitality and tourism industry-focused Branding Day at the hospitality
school’s J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation
Center for Student Development and Engagement. Pop-up banners, branded giveaways –
including water bottles, pens and lip balm – decorated the main lounge of the
Marriott Center as a way for the beverage company to communicate its brand to hospitality
students. During Breakthru’s campus visit, company representatives answered students’
questions about working in the industry and hospitality career opportunities. Each
quarter, up to six Branding Day’s like this one are scheduled by the school.
The Branding Days, which feature a different hospitality or tourism industry company
each day, began in the fall quarter to bring students closer to industry experts, a key
component of the Marriott Center’s mission to provide highly customized
professional opportunities for students. Recruiters represent a variety of
hospitality and tourism industry segments, including food and beverage, private
clubs, lodging, event management and tourism bureaus.
“We try to create as many opportunities as possible to get students in
front of companies to talk about what sort of jobs and internship opportunities
there are,” says Nick Thomas, director of the Marriott Center and interim
associate director of the School of
Hospitality Leadership. “Historically, there’s one main time
of year to do that and it is at our annual career fair in January. It’s a
wonderful event, but what we’ve found for a variety of reasons is that either
students can’t make it or we want to create an opportunity where a company can
have a more personalized recruiting experience. This is also a great chance for
students to practice their networking skills with real-world industry
Recruiters also stop in various classes to welcome students and invite
them to the center. Some employers also will stay on-site into the evening and
other days to conduct interviews and more focused information sessions
pertaining to employment opportunities.
Since students enrolled in the school’s hospitality leadership major are
required to complete two internships – each from different organizations –
access to internship opportunities is imperative.
“When we do these Branding Days, we really try to encourage the companies to do
things to be able to convey something that’s intangible – the culture, the
emotional intelligence of the organization, so that’s a trend we’ve seen
lately,” he says.
Networking Leads to Career Opportunities
Undergraduate hospitality major Rana Zaid recently received an offer to
join Lettuce Entertain You Enterprise’s summer management internship program
after attending the school’s quarterly kickoff event. During the event, Zaid
met Marc Jacobs and Jerrod Melman (BA ’05), who serve as
executives-in-residence in the School of Hospitality Leadership and who each
hold prominent roles at Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises.
Zaid, who serves as a student ambassador for the school, says that kind of
networking is what helps connect students to sought-after career
"Branding Days play a significant role in helping
us learn more about the culture of a specific firm in a one-on-one
atmosphere,” he says. “I've found the managers representing the companies are
eager to engage and learn about each student as well, often highlighting areas
of opportunity within hospitality industry based on those conversations."
Breakthru Beverage Group recruits students for a range of positions, but
more than 60 percent of their positions are in sales. They also offer a
management development program.
Breakthru's Human Resources Manager Travis Marcotte says students who are studying hospitality and
business have a particular advantage when it comes to working in a company like
“Our sales people are basically out there trying to help our customers give the
end-user a great experience,” he says. “So we’re kind of adding another layer
there, but ultimately what I think you learn in a hospitality program directly
ties to that and you’re still getting the satisfaction in that the end user is
having an incredible experience and that’s something you’ve created.”
DePaul hospitality students can mark their calendars for these upcoming Branding Days:
- Jan. 16 – White Lodging
- Jan. 23 – Nashville Convention &
- Feb. 6 – Four Seasons
- Feb. 13 – SMASHOTELS
- April 10 – Hyatt
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