Last week, a recent graduate of the New York Institute of Technology, who earned her bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management, emailed me to ask if I could share any contacts with potential employers. In the past month and a half, she told me, she has been on 15 job interviews and hasn’t yet received an offer.
My heart goes out to her. It’s a tough job market for graduates pursuing many professions. According to a recent article in Newsweek, an estimated 2.8 million university graduates entered the U.S. workforce within the past few months, with bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees — just as the country’s unemployment rate hit its lowest level in nearly seven years. “Cause for a celebration, right?” the article reads. “Not so fast.”
The unfortunate reality is that the millennial generation still lags behind in the job market — making up about 40 percent of America’s unemployed. As of May, data showed that nearly 14 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds are out of work — more than double the national jobless rate of 5.4 percent.
I would imagine the stats are similar for those entering the hospitality sector, but I have one shining example of a hospitality school that is bucking that trend. An initiative run by San Diego State University’s (SDSU) School of Hospitality & Tourism Management has successfully placed 100 percent of its undergraduates —132 — in jobs this year.
Director Carl Winston and his team have been sticklers for screening their students for the program and mentoring their progress throughout. That, combined with a strong commitment to collaborate with industry players — some of them alumni — has resulted in their grads finding gainful employment.
Internships have been key to this program’s success, Winston said. “We encourage students to find an internship during their senior year that aligns with the area of the industry they hope to work in post-graduation,” he told Convene. The curriculum is structured so that the students have the ability to work at their internships three days a week. The ultimate goal is for graduates to be offered full-time positions at the organizations where they have interned.
Hotel companies hire many of the students, and Winston said he is particularly pleased when a graduate in the meetings area (about 50 percent of the student body) is hired to work in the “third-party meeting-planning space.” That’s because, while his background is in hotels, restaurants, and theme parks, he “fell in love with the meetings profession along the way.”
Kudos on sharing that love, Carl. And here’s to other hospitality schools learning from your model.