While the urge to lounge pool-side following a year of grueling SAT prep may be strong, we recommend that kids interested in pursuing hospitality studies stay off the beach blanket and take advantage of one of the industry’s peak seasons. Since the hospitality connoisseurs out there are probably going to be helping their families book relaxing travel plans and accommodations this summer anyway, they might as well make it count towards getting into college.
The summer between junior and senior years is an opportunity to really explore your passion in life without the distraction of subjects and clubs that you don’t love as much. In this post, we highlight a number of ways in which you can impress the admissions team at your top-choice schools. Whatever you choose to do, do it full out. The only way to really ensure that you’ll stand head-and-shoulders above your competition is to demonstrate that you worked hard. Also, take this time to focus and position yourself as an expert in one specific niche inside of hospitality. Relax. Just because you are choosing to focus on restaurant industry startups doesn’t mean that you can’t change your mind later. The point is, universities want students who have one really specific superpower, not a few half-baked interests.
Interning is a great way to learn the practical applications of the industry in which you would like to enter one day. Most major companies do not offer internships for high school students. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t secure one. There are thousands and thousands of hotels in the United States. You can undoubtedly finagle an internship with one of them. If boutique hotel management is your specific area of interest, identify a few boutique companies that are exciting to you and pitch yourself to them. If corporate hospitality mergers and acquisitions light you up, check out companies like Marriot which just acquired Starwood. Do your research and find the exact division where you’d like to be working one day and connect. While you may not be able to legally enter a casino just yet, perhaps the marketing sector of a major Vegas casino with offices off-site.
Consider reaching out to a hospitality group, restaurant group, or other similar entity in an area that might, due to the plethora of environmental or disaster-related instances that affected the industry in 2017, be struggling to retain business. All sectors of said businesses from the marketing team, risk-management personnel, to legal counsel will be working to tackle the challenge. There is perhaps no better educational opportunity than immersing yourself within a company that is dealing with a big business hurdle.
There is also a myriad of hospitality startups where kids interested in that niche can look for internships. More established startup titans like AirBnB boast impressive corporate cultures. Being on the ground-level of a newer startup is another great way to learn about what it takes to go from minimum viable product to company launch. Whatever you choose to do, just make sure you are working hard (i.e.: full-time) and not just taking an internship where you will be picking up coffee for the team every Thursday.
If you don’t lock down an internship, taking a college course is another optimal way to spend your summer. Colleges like Cornell offer three-week, for-credit courses in hospitality management for budding professionals.
One note: Taking a college course will not get you into the university where you take up residence this summer. Commit that to memory.
These days, volunteering is the baseline. On the one hand, that means more students than ever are investing time in serving their communities. On the other hand, it means that a few really worthwhile afternoons spent tutoring a kid in reading may not actually help you in the college admissions process. That’s ok. It just means that if you do decide to focus on volunteerism this summer, you should really intend to do something more creative and more meaningful than ever before. In other words, work hard and be of real service.
A number of hospitality-affiliated organizations around the country are service-oriented. Drive Change in New York City and Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles actually hire under-employed formerly incarcerated individuals to help them with successful reentry into their new lives. Similar to what we suggested in the internship portion of this post, you could also zero in on a winery in Napa affected by this year’s fires, a hotel in Florida, a restaurant group based in Houston, or a hospitality group with a socially conscious message. Take a look at your favorite organization and make sure you are well-versed in what they do. Decide where in the company your skills could best be put to use and offer your help. Just make sure that whatever you are doing is rigorous and that you are truly involved with the company.
Like many industries, in hospitality, it’s all about who you know. If you are going to intern, volunteer, or take a college course in a big hospitality hub like Vegas or Miami, take advantage of the opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the greats. Find out who some of the leaders in your specific area of interest are and connect with them on Linkedin or over email. Alternatively, reach out to us and we can help you connect. Offering to buy someone coffee in exchange for their career advice is a great way to make a professional connection that could serve you in the future.
We are experts in helping kids land impressive internships. If you need some help setting something up for the summer, give us a call.