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Hospitality Conversations™ Different Approaches Deliver Success In Hospitality Internships

publication date: May 23, 2011
author/source: Dr. John Hogan CHA CHE CMHS

Hospitality ConversationsTM

Different Approaches Deliver Success In Hospitality Internships

Dr. John Hogan CHE CHA CMHS

May , 2011

"I can't imagine a person becoming a success who doesn't give this game of life everything he's got."

Walter Cronkite, (1916-2009) American Reporter and TV News Anchor

Many of our earlier Hospitality ConversationsTM columns that have examined internships have been at major universities with traditional four year academic programs. Several of these programs have international components that may include global internships and/or students from around the globe.

We decided to take a dramatically different approach in this column and had a marvelous interview with Professor Mark Newton, Ed. D. Program Director at Gwinnett Technical College in the greater Atlanta, Georgia (USA) area. Newton is also a Hospitality Consultant in his role as President at Newton's LAW and a Professional Speaker at Crossroads Career Networking Group.

Part of the reason this interaction was so motivating and positive for me was Newton's enthusiasm and excitement in his voice as he spoke about the students in the program he has been affiliated with since 1987. Readers here will see what I mean in his answers.

Question 1
: How did your career path take you from the corporate world to the teaching load at a community college?

Answer: My undergraduate degree was from the hotel school at Cornell.

After graduation, I spent about five years in restaurant management with a very strong chain at the time , Victoria Station Restaurants.

From there, I was recruited to become the Director of Restaurant Training at Days Inns of America where I spent the next four years. At that time, Days Inns were heavily involved in accommodations, retail shops, fuel and food service, There were many corporate owned and/or managed properties at the time and this was an excellent opportunity in a growth company.

When the company was sold after the death of founder Cecil Day, I spent two years with Pannell Kerr Foster and conducted market and feasibility studies for hotels, restaurants and office buildings, as well as consulting assignments for the hospitality industry.

The position became available at Gwinnett in 1987 and I was enthused to tackle this different kind of assignment.

Question 2: Community Colleges are known to have heavy teaching loads. Tell us about your teaching load, the other faculty involved and about the students.
Answer: Th
at is more than one question! To respond, though:

  1. I teach five classes per quarter, for a total of 13 per year.
  2. We tend to use industry practitioners as adjunct faculty. It gives our students access to real world situations and managers, and allows the industry people a sense of what is going on in academic settings as well.
  3. The Gwinett program began in 1984 and has today about 150 students. There is no such thing as a "typical student" - ours run from age 18 to a (retired) 68 year old looking for his next adventure.
  4. Our program is also unique in several ways. It is funded by the state lottery and provides Hope Grants that allow students at technical schools to essentially earn a "free education." As part of career education strategies, our students can either leave with an associate's degree and enter the workforce or transfer to a state four year institution.
  5. Students when applying for admissions have to declare their major immediately, so we spend a great deal of time recruiting in high schools and within the community. To help attract students, I also write a great deal of hospitality-related articles for business publications.

Question 3: Was your personal knowledge of how industry "works" an advantage to you at the college in establishing courses, finding faculty, setting up internships, etc?

Answer: It gave me a great head start on all of the above. For example, we have been able to establish internships with four different Hilton brands. They have different ownership structures, differing levels of service and this gives our students exposure to a wide range of options. We work with both full service properties (Doubletree and Hilton), as well as rooms only hotels with Hampton Inns and Homewood Suites.

Interested students apply and go through the interviewing process. If they are accepted, the students work in various positions in the hotel including front desk, housekeeping, engineering and sales. They work for 10 hours per week for 10 weeks without pay. They receive course credit. Because they work without pay, their schedule is fairly flexible. Students have to pass the administered OnQ certification tests.

It is important to remember that the students are shadowing and learning the hotel positions. They are not taking the place of any employees; however, upon completion of the program they receive a certificate of completion from Hilton. Students can also include the working experience on their resumes, including the OnQ Certificate we have arranged with Hilton

The hotel managers also gain an advantage - they have the opportunities to see students in action while in the internships and they hire the best. Several of my students have already been hired by their hotels as paid employees.

Question 4: How else do you interact with industry?

Atlanta as a major city has great hospitality offerings. We have had guest lectures and presentations from:

  • Operating Managers from Ritz Carlton

  • Sales Managers from Marriott

  • General Managers from the Marriott Marquis

  • Certified Meeting Planners

Our students also have had the chance to see the "real world" of business, including the sad reality of seeing restaurants as they were closing. For the last year or so, we have had a bus tour of the city with fixed appointments where students and potential employers get to see each other. We are expanding to additional brands in the internships.

We have also had field trips to Gaylord Properties via Affordable Meetings and some of our students have been involved in learning trips to Europe.

Question 5: What would you say is the one special program that has the most impact on students?

There are two programs that have significant impact and are valued by both industry and students:

  1. Now in its 15th year, we hold an annual Interview Contest each April. In groups of three employers, students participate in appointments. On a 3 to 1 ratio, the student has ten minutes of live interviewing followed by five minutes of feedback. This can be very dramatic and enlightening!
  2. The second is our Round Table Discussion series. We have 26 employers who sit at small tables and answer in 30 minute segments questions on "How to Anything......" This is powerful for both students and employers , as they each get to better understand the other.

Question 6: I am impressed by the depth of your work! Any closing thoughts or recommendations for students and/or industry professionals?

 It would be what I tell every class: Success means getting out of your seat!

r. Mark Newton is the Director of the Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management Program at Gwinnett Technical College in Lawrenceville, Georgia.  Some of classes he teaches include Introduction to Hospitality, Employee Leadership Training, Hotel Operations, Food and Beverage Management, Hospitality Engineering, Food and Beverage Cost Control, Hospitality Law and Hospitality marketing. 


Mark is a graduate of the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University, and has worked over twenty years in various management jobs in the hospitality industry.  Dr. Newton returned to school and earned his Masters and Doctoral Degrees from the University of Georgia.  He has taught at Gwinnett Tech for over twenty-three years and has earned sevenn"teacher of the year" awards.

Dr. Newton is the 2002 member of the year in the National Speakers Association - Georgia Chapter.  He is the Chairman of the Gwinnett County Alcohol Board, as well as an active member of Georgia Meeting Professionals International and Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association-Georgia Chapter.    Dr. Newton can be found speaking and consulting for clients such as Marriott Hotels, Day's Inns of America, International Society of Special Events, Wallis Oil Company, and Certified Oil Company.  He has written several published articles such as
Employee Retention Strategies, Winning the Recruiting War, Finding Great People, and Managing Your Career.

Hospitality Tip of the Week: Focus on Success
" Motivate them, train them, care about them and make winners out of them....
we know that if we treat our employees correctly, they'll treat the customers right.
And if customers are treated right, they'll come back. " Bill Marriott, Jr.

  KEYS TO SUCCESS is the umbrella title for my 2011 programs, hospitality services and columns. This year's writings focus on a variety of topics for hotel owners, managers and professionals including both my "HOW TO" articles, HOSPITALITY CONVERSATIONSTM, Lessons from the FieldTM, Hotel Common SenseTM and Principles for Success

Feel free to share an idea for a column at
john.hogan@hospitalityeducators.com anytime or contact me regarding consulting, customized workshops, speaking engagements ... And remember - we all need a regular dose of common sense.

John Hogan is a successful hospitality executive, educator, author and consultant and is a frequent keynote speaker and seminar leader at many hospitality industry events. He is Co-Founder of a consortium (
www.HospitalityEducators.com) of successful corporate and academic professionals delivering focused and affordable counsel in solving specific challenges facing hospitality today.

is a membership site offering a wide range of information, forms, best practices and ideas designed to help individual hoteliers and hospitality businesses improve their market penetration, deliver service excellence and increase their profitability. Individuals wishing to contribute materials may send them Kathleen@HospitalityEducators.com. Special pricing is in effect for a limited time that also includes a complimentary copy of LESSONS FROM THE FIELD- A COMMON SENSE APPROACH TO EFFECTIVE HOTEL SALES.

Consulting Expertise and Research Interest

  1. Professional Development for the Organization and the Individual
  2. Customer Service
  3. Making Cultural Diversity Real
  4. Developing Academic Hospitality programs
  5. Medical Lodging Consulting
  6. Sales Management and training
  7. Turn-around and revenue management

If you need assistance in any of these areas or simply an independent review or opinion on a hospitality challenge, contact me directly for a prompt response and very personalized attention.

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Dr. John Hogan, CHE CHA CMHS United States - Phoenix, Phone: 602-799-5375
Email: info@hoganhospitality.com

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