With nearly half of today’s college graduates unable to find work, one needs to really take a look at how colleges are preparing people for the working world.
For students, that means adding a dose of practicality in choosing the right schools. These days, employers look beyond academics to hands-on training. They want someone who can “hit the ground running” with a minimum of supervision. Many schools are taking the hint and giving students a leg up by offering more well-rounded programs.
If, for example, you’ve always wanted to work in the hospitality industry, you might want to look into schools that offer internship programs. These vary widely by degree requirements and internship opportunities.
Florida International University's School of Hospitality and Tourism Management is a prime example. Unlike some hospitality schools, they require you to complete a 300-hour Internship. What’s more, before your internship, you need to complete at least 1,000 hours hospitality-related work.
FIU’s 300-hour immersive internship program puts you to work for 10 to 15 weeks. You'll be cross-trained in at least three different jobs in a single department (front office, reservations and PBX) or in several different departments (front office, sales and marketing, housekeeping, and food & beverage). What's more, you must select rotations where you have the least experience. In other words, if you worked as a server, you'll need to choose a "back of the house" rotation to boost your job knowledge.
Besides being cross-trained, you'll have to complete a management project assigned by your employer and approved by the professor responsible for your internship. Past management projects have included the development of a training manual, the preparation of a guest guidebook, conducting a competitive audit, or performing a cost analysis of a menu, and the creation of a tour package. Employers are encouraged to assign projects that will help the student grow professionally and which will assist the organization.
In most cases, you'll be assigned an advisor/supervisor. When you start your internship, you and your advisor will agree on a list of objectives and plan the internship program to ensure those objectives are met.
Most internships are paid, and pay is commensurate with the job and your prior experience. For maximum flexibility, these internships are offered during the Fall, Spring, and Summer semesters.
Well-structured degree programs that dovetail into hands-on internships can give you the advantage you need to land a job in this hyper competitive job market. So shop around—not just for the best degree program in your field but for the overall program that best equips you to hit the ground running in your career.