Students intern at new hotels downtown


Austyn Keelty

LEARNING THE ROPES: As junior Tristan Hanson stands behind the host stand at the Westin, he learns the basics from his fellow employee. Working at the different stations throughout the hotels has given students an opportunity to consider all professions under the Hospitality field. “I’ve learned how to greet guests, how to seat them at tables, how to confirm reservations, and how to talk to people on the phone,” Hanson said.

Austyn Keelty, Photo Essay Editor

Students take in the clean smell and crowd of travelers as they enter the eight hotels, which include Van Zandt, JW Marriott, and The Driskill, new to Hospitality. 

Due to the renovations the Barton Creek Resort is experiencing this year, the Bowie Hospitality program, run by Jill Wolfington, was forced to find new hotels for their class. 

“I am so excited about the energy in the new hotels. They’re very hip, trendy hotels,” Wolfington said. 

Wolfington, wanting to give students the opportunity to get real world work experience deiced to create the Hospitality program. 

“I was an outside sales manager, and I just really loved the job and the hotel industry so much, but I had my degree in education as well so I decided to combine the two,” Wolfington said. “I had a very supportive administration that allowed me to try something unique.”

This was the first program in Texas that allowed high school students to intern at surrounding hotels in the city. During their first year of the program, students have a two periods blocked off for hospitality which gives them the time to bus and work at the hotels.

“I took hospitality to explore different career options because I didn’t really know what I want to do, but it really has furthered my interests in something in that field because getting the work experience has really helped me,” junior Annika Jensen said.

Not only do the new hotels give students better ideas of what they want out of a future career, but they also help build essential skills for working in the hospitality field.

“I work with people that are maybe in their mid-20’s and they’re all really nice and friendly. It will help me build people skills and also learn how to handle an angry customer,” Jensen said. 

Due to the strict working guidelines of the high-class hotels, students who are inclined to join the class must go through an interview process to make sure they’re fit for the job. Second year students conduct the interviews and assist Wolfington in deciding who joins the class.

“You can get kicked out of the class if you are a bad employee or just disrespectful with your job. If you maintain good customer service and everything then you stay in the class without any problems,” senior Emily Oaks said.

Students will rotate job positions every five weeks to get a feel for each profession. Students learn about jobs in the housekeeping, sales, and restaurant/food departments.

“Students participating in the program will learn basics of hotel operations. By working alongside employees in each of these areas they will leave knowing what each department does,” Assistant General Manager of the Van Zandt hotel Nicholas Yezierski said.

Second year hospitality students get two periods blocked off for the class as well; however, they must get a job in the Hospitality industry and work at least 10 hours a week. This allows students to experience work, just like interning, but now they earn a paycheck in return. 

“I wouldn’t have known this is a field I’m interested in and also getting to intern in so many different aspects it really helps you narrow down what you want to do with your life,” Oaks said. “I know after interning in human resources I will never work in human resources, but I found out that I love being a barista and that experience got me my job at Starbucks.”