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School of Hospitality Leadership Career Events Return to Campus

Branding Days Connect Students to Rebounding Industry

Students at School of Hospitality Leadership Branding Day
Branding Day recruiter Gary Brazzale (far right), area talent acquisition manager for Hyatt Hotels Corp., discusses career opportunities with students in-person and online through a mobile career networking station at DePaul's School of Hospitality Leadership. | Photo courtesy Aamna Fasihi

This fall the School of Hospitality Leadership (SHL) at DePaul resumed its robust schedule of on-campus career networking events that connect students to management opportunities in a rebounding hospitality industry.

Branding Days—meet and greets between hospitality brand recruiters and DePaul students—returned to the SHL’s Marriott Foundation Center for Student Development and Engagement in September. Hyatt Hotels, Lettuce Entertain You Restaurants and White Lodging are among the organizations that have visited campus to network with students and provide brand-themed giveaways. SHL also continues to host virtual career events, which will include a series of industry recruiter panel discussions scheduled for Feb. 22, Feb. 28 and March 2. Recruiters from at least a dozen organizations, from international hotels to local sports and restaurant groups, plan to participate. 

Branding Day attendee Julia Brom appreciated the renewed opportunities for in-person networking with industry professionals. “They have allowed me to learn about hospitality sectors I never knew about,” says Brom, who is working at Lettuce Entertain You part-time while pursuing her DePaul business degree in hospitality leadership. “Being able to gain more experience speaking to leaders in the hospitality field has increased my confidence for job interviews and other network activities.”

SHL student Lauren Lloyd, who has attended two Branding Days this fall, says she enjoys meeting other SHL students in-person at the events as well as the opportunity to practice professional conversations with industry representatives. “My experience is always great,” she says.

Mobile career networking station connects recruiters to remote students

Students at School of Hospitality Leadership Branding Day
School of Hospitality Leadership Director Nicholas Thomas welcomes students to the first in-person Branding Day in September. | Photo by Kathy Hillegonds

For students who aren’t able to attend in person, this year’s career events feature a new way to participate—a mobile online career networking station. The wheeled cart equipped with a laptop, monitor and webcam allows remote students to meet with the visiting recruiters via Zoom or live chat during career events. While most students have opted to participate face-to-face so far, Nicholas Thomas, director of the SHL, says it’s important to provide flexibility. “We want to give students an opportunity to meet recruiters no matter where in the world they are.”

Maggie Russell, area director of human resources for White Lodging, a long-time SHL recruiting partner, welcomed the opportunity to meet students both in-person and online as the first Branding Day industry representative to step back on campus in September after 18 months of remote-only connections.

“I have worked with DePaul’s School of Hospitality Leadership for years, so to be at the school year’s first Branding Day speaking in-person with students again was like coming home,” she says. “As I was once a hospitality student myself, one of the favorite parts of my job is connecting and forming relationships with the future leaders in our industry.”

With some students continuing to take classes online or in hybrid modalities, Russell appreciates the option to connect virtually so that remote learners have access to “the same communication with us as students doing in-person learning.”

White Lodging values participating in Branding Days, Russell adds, because it allows the organization to strengthen its talent pipeline by connecting with students who may not be familiar with the Merrillville, Indiana-based hotel management company, which operates about 100 hotels under various names nationally.

“My colleagues and I are able to connect one-on-one with students, answering their questions and continuing our relationship even after Branding Day has ended,” she shares. “We have also been able to offer many students job and internship opportunities from conversations held at Branding Days.”

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