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How Important Is Hands-On Experience in a Hospitality Degree Program?

How Important Is Hands-On Experience in a Hospitality Degree Program

IMAGE SOURCE: Pixabay, public domain.

Having a solid understanding of business concepts and principles and of tourism strategy and laws and ethics is important, but you can’t learn everything about the field of hospitality in a classroom. Textbooks and lectures can help you grasp the academic fundamentals of the field of hospitality and hotel management. However, much of the success you’re working toward in the field of hospitality and hotel management requires you to put these concepts and strategies into practice in a real-world setting. To prepare students for their future careers and give them the opportunity to apply what they learn in their course materials, many of the best hospitality management degrees include a hands-on experience component.

Where Hospitality Students Gain Experience

Students in hospitality and hotel management programs can gain their real-world work experience in settings such as restaurants, hotels and resorts. In fact, a number of schools with respected hospitality degree programs have hotels and restaurants – some of them entirely student-run – located right on campus. Some schools even are home to multiple such sites, including quick service and fine dining restaurants. Students might also have the opportunity to complete internships off campus, including work experience opportunities at major resorts.

While a student’s precise hands-on experience will vary based on where they work, many of these experiences allow students to delve into numerous aspects of hospitality management. For example, students who gain experience working at a student-run restaurant might create recipes, determine the pricing of the menu, serve customers and handle any complaints or problems that arise and even manage the financial aspects of restaurant operations. Students who work in a hotel while gaining hands-on tourism experience will practice skills such as guest service and hotel operation management.

The Extent of Hands-On Work in Hospitality Degree Programs

At the top hospitality and hotel management programs in the United States, this hands-on work experience is a major component of a student’s degree requirements. Students may need to complete anywhere from 600 to 1,200 hours of work experience in a restaurant, hotel or resort in order to graduate. Some programs require students to complete two or even three internships, to ensure that they have the opportunity to develop a diverse group of skills.

The Benefits of Work Experience in the Tourism Industry

The reason so many hospitality and hotel management degree programs require such extensive hands-on experience is because this experience is so valuable. There are many things you can learn from working in hospitality, according to East Coast Polytechnic Institute University, including the workings of the industry from the perspectives of managers, employees at various levels of authority and even customers and guests. In fact, working in these settings – particularly in entry-level roles – can help you develop important character traits that you won’t learn just from studying, such as patience and the compassion and humility to listen to differing opinions.

While hundreds of hours of work experience may sound like a lot, it’s difficult to overstate just how much hospitality students benefit from taking on roles in the food service, hotel management and tourism industry even before they graduate. These experiences can bolster your résumé and impress prospective employers. More importantly, they can equip you with the real-world skills you need to oversee any aspect of the tourism industry. Whether you want to rise to the top at an established hotel or restaurant or open your own resort or fine dining establishment, you will need these skills to reach your hospitality career goals.

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