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Hospitality Internship Programs - A Student’s Perspective

By Kathleen Hogan, MBA
January 31,  2011

While visiting New York City for the 2010 International Hotel, Motel and Restaurant Show (IHM&RS), I was invited to attend a Reception held at the Waldorf=Astoria where I had the wonderful opportunity to speak with a number of hospitality students who were soon to be graduated.  The students were poised, articulate and exhibited a high level of ease and confidence in this social networking arena.  I was struck positively by their professionalism in dress, manner and conversation and asked for an interview with one of the students to gain their perspective on the internship program experience.

My interview was with Brian Becker, a graduating senior from Niagara University with a major in Hospitality Management.   Our conversation encompassed what drew him to a career in hospitality, what different work assignments and positions he has experienced within hospitality, how the Niagara University internship program influenced his career, and what his short and long term career goals were for his future in the hospitality industry.

<>Interestingly, Brian shied away from choosing a career in hospitality when he was finishing high school due to his concern as to whether he could earn a good living in hospitality.  He had worked summers all during high school, starting his first hospitality job when a Junior working as a dishwasher in a small restaurant in East Aurora, New York.  He went on to work at Salvatore’s Italian Gardens in the Buffalo, New York area, where he advanced in position from busboy to head busboy and later Maitre’ D. Though he was drawn to the personal relationship in delivering guest services in hospitality, he initially chose to follow in his father’s footsteps in studying Criminal Justice for his first semester of college following high school.   

Brian discovered, however, he still wanted to pursue a career in hospitality.  He transferred to Trocaire College in Buffalo where he earned his Associates Degree in Hospitality Management and went on to enroll in Niagara University’s  College of Hospitality and Tourism Management to earn a Bachelor’s Degree.   He participated in the internship program for hospitality students while attending Niagara University.

One of his internship assignments was at The Pierre Hotel in New York City, where he shadowed guest services from Front Desk to the Housekeeping Department.  While there he attended a summer session at Fordham University’s Lincoln Center campus where he enrolled in a Career Development Class. 

The Pierre Hotel internship was one of three standout hospitality experiences Brian shared with me.  The second standout experience was the two years he spent wearing many hats on the Butler Staff for The Mansion on Delaware Avenue, a four diamond hotel in Buffalo, New York.  The third standout experience was his time  spent working at Salvatore’s Italian Gardens mentioned above.

Brian voiced appreciation for the personalized support he received from the Niagara University professors, who he described as true mentors.  He noted the caliber of opportunities afforded the students in the hospitality internship program, which he attributed to Niagara University’s network of top hotel and restaurant affiliations. 

We discussed the importance of setting goals and measuring your progress, covering many of the points identified in my Growing Your Career Up articles.  Brian listed one of his short term and long term goals:  attaining the position of General Manager for a prestigious hotel and becoming the CEO of a global hospitality company respectively. 

Since our conversation, Brian accepted an offer from the Waldorf=Astoria in New York City for their Management Development Program where he started in early 2011.  (Congratulations, Brian!)

Kathleen Hogan, MBA is Co-Founder and Publisher of  She has a background in management, banking, and finance with a Master’s Degree concentration in Human Resources Management.  In addition, Kathleen is a hospice volunteer in Phoenix, Arizona, where she currently resides.


 Kathleen Hogan, MBA

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Also See: Growing Your Hospitality Career Up - Part 2 of 2 / Kathleen Hogan / January 2011

Growing Your Hospitality Career Up - Part 1 / Kathleen Hogan / November 2010

From the Chalkboard to the Front Line - Blending Academics with Hospitality Internship Programs / Kathleen Hogan / October 2010

Luxury Hotels on Italy's Lake Como Provide Intensive 3 Month Internships for Niagara University College of Hospitality and Tourism Management Students / January 2007

Test Driving” New Co-Workers Through Internships / Denise Moretti and Kathryn Phelps / February 2006

The University of Houston Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management Provides Students with Intership Opportunities All Over the World; Gives Students Advantage When it Comes to Competing for Industry Jobs / August 2007


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