Lessons in hospitality

Fascinated by the hospitality industry? Professor Kimberly Schimmel from Kent State University sheds light on how aspirants carve a niche for themselves

Professor Kimberly Schimmel is a Professor of the Sociology of Sport and an affiliate to the Women’s Studies programme at Kent State University. She was in Chennai recently to facilitate an MoU between Kent State University (KSU) and SRM Institute of Hotel Management and Catering Technology. In this interview, she talks about what sets KSU’s hospitality management programmes apart, work options available to students after completing the course, and more.

What are the skills students develop while pursuing the programmes and how do they benefit from them?

Our Bachelor of Science degree programme in hospitality management prepares students for careers in major hospitality industry segments. This is done through academic and research programmes, collaborative partnerships, creative approaches, and ethical principles. Graduates earn multiple certifications including ServSafe, First Aid and CPR, and TIPS responsible alcohol service. Our bachelor’s programme students also have the option to earn a minor (specialisation) in event planning.

The Master of Science programme in hospitality and tourism management provides an integrated hospitality and tourism graduate education, with an emphasis on regional, national, and global implications of the field. Students learn to develop critical analysis skills, research abilities, and understand advanced hospitality and tourism issues. Graduates are prepared to successfully secure positions of leadership in industry or pursue a terminal degree in hospitality or tourism management.

What makes KSU’s hospitality and tourism management programmes stand out?

First, ours is the only four-year programme in our state that is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration, which sets very high industry standards and stringent review standards.

Also, our programme is one of the few in the United States to host three active student chapters of professional organisations (convention management, club managements, ETA Sigma Delta international honour society) and the only one in the State of Ohio to do so.

Our students are required to complete internships towards the end of the programme, many of which serve as a “springboard” to paid supervisory or management positions upon graduation. We place interns in the top hotels, restaurants and country clubs such as Hilton, Marriott, Hyatt, Darden, and Texas Roadhouse.

In addition, students have the opportunity to be placed in internships in various hospitality properties in Florence, Italy, at Kent State University’s Florence campus. We are currently working to expand our international internship placements, which is one of the goals for my current visit to India.

What is the significance of the MoU signed between Kent State University and SRM Institute of Hotel Management and Catering Technology?

Our collaboration with SRM will allow us to explore opportunities for students to immerse themselves in current practices and study future trends in both India and the Unites States. Thus, we can equip students with a more international perspective as they enter the ever-emerging global economy. We also have the infrastructure at Kent State University to offer faculty exchanges.

Does having prior experience before joining a programme help?

Absolutely, it does help. However, we do not require prior experience for admission to our programmes. We have structured them so that students can enter as novices and graduate with internship and leadership experience that positions them for immediate employment in the hospitality industry.

What are the work opportunities available to students after completing a bachelor’s or master’s programme?

Our graduates are employed in various management positions, including, but not limited to, the following titles in hotels, restaurants, country clubs and banquet centres: hotel front office manager, catering and sales manager, food and beverage director, food distribution sales manager, general manager, restaurant manager, banquet manager, human resources and marketing manager, clubhouse manager, and event manager. We also have quite a few alumni who have launched their own entrepreneurial endeavours.

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