Hilton students get hospitable
Students at the Conrad N. Hilton College were given the chance to learn from industry professionals at the college’s Hospitality Industry Hall of Honor festivities on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Each October, the college brings in hospitality professionals to talk to students about an assortment of industry topics. This year, more than 20 Think Tank sessions were provided. Students attended sessions specific to their professional interests and were able to meet and network with experienced professionals.
Hilton College lecturer Alexis Hoey, this year’s Hall of Honor faculty adviser, said the event is huge for the entire Hilton community.
“Nearly the entire college, from the faculty to the staff to the students, is involved in some way during the festivities,” Hoey said. “The faculty act as moderators for the Think Tank panels, the staff assist with logistics of each event and student volunteers execute the setup and food and beverage service for each event.”
Hoey also said she had a 10-student management team that worked for 10 months on planning the two-day event. Each November, students undergo an application and interview process to be selected for the team and immediately get started on the next year’s event.
Hilton College students not only get to hear from experts’ first-hand experiences within the hospitality industry, but are also free to ask questions during each session and network with the panel speakers. Each Think Tank panel is assigned a room in the Hilton UH, and hundreds of students float from room to room looking for something that interests them.
Hotel and restaurant management junior and first-time Think Tank attendee Joy Carlen said she was eager to take advantage of the event.
“I think it’s exciting because the people that are speaking are successful and a lot of them are alumni of the Hilton College,” Carlen said. “It’s interesting to hear how they got to where they are, from starting off as a student to going out into the real world. As a student myself, that’s what I really want to know.”
This year’s topics consisted of studying and working abroad, cake decorating, opening up property, upscale bar management, night life operations, starting one’s own business, sports venue trends and maintaining balance between one’s personal and professional lives, among others.
Hoey says the session topics adapt to fit changes in the industry itself, and this year’s event was tailored to provide topics that the students actually wanted to learn about.
“In the spring, the students at the Hilton College were asked to take a survey about Think Tanks and make suggestions for what they, the Think Tank audience, would like to hear about later that year,” she said.
HRM junior Jeremy Williams made a point to attend the Think Tank sessions this year because of how much he got out of them last year.
“Last year, the sessions were really informative. I attended one about sports management and another about club management. I got to ask personal questions about whom the speakers interned with, what it was like going out into the field and eventually how they landed a good job,” Williams said.
“I expect to get more connected this year. Networking is important, and this is where students can easily get it. I can meet people who can tell me real experiences, and that helps me make my own decisions. It just makes it easier on me when it comes time to graduate.”