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York College’s Hospitality Management program sets students up for success

August 28, 2018

York College of Pennsylvania has established an efficient pipeline that delivers Hospitality Management graduates to hotels, restaurants, theme parks, and other service-oriented industries in the United States and around the world.

Airlines, convention bureaus, resorts, catering companies, and cruise lines are among the businesses that aggressively recruit York College students, who enter the field with a wealth of experience in community projects, hundreds of hours of on-the-job summer training, and the expertise gleaned from faculty and local leaders in all aspects of the hospitality industry.

As Dr. John Hughes, Dean of the School of Arts, Communication and Global Studies, has said, it’s difficult for a Hospitality Management major to leave the college without a job in hand.

“People don’t realize how many good jobs there are in the hospitality business,” says Dr. Hughes, who also directs the Hospitality Management Program.

In the U.S. alone, he points out, 2.5 million professionals are managers in the field. They might also work in sales and marketing operations, human resources, communications, tourism development, and public relations for regional or global hospitality organizations. They also work for businesses not strictly involved in the hospitality industry, bringing the total number of related jobs to 15 million.

Hospitality Management graduates also can strike out on their own as wedding planners or corporate event specialists or restaurateurs.

Two of the program’s graduates are restaurant managers locally, at The First Post and the Country Club of York.

A comprehensive approach

York College is one of about 400 schools that offer the major. Dr. Hughes saw the importance of folding the program into the School of Arts, Communication and Global Studies. Hospitality, after all, is a worldwide business, whose employees need a foundation in business studies and benefit from being good communicators and the ability to speak multiple languages and understand world cultures.

Classroom studies include accounting, finance, marketing, communications, facilities management, commercial food production, critical thinking, humanities, political science, economics, international business and language studies.

The program’s faculty members, all with degrees in Hospitality Management, bring years of work experience in the industry to the classroom.

Even York College’s location is a plus for students.

“A major positive point of difference about York College is that this is one of the largest tourist areas in state of Pennsylvania,” Dr. Hughes says. 

During the academic years, the summers in between, and after graduation, students can find opportunities in nearby Hershey, Gettysburg, and Lancaster. Without traveling far, they can work in Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City, and Washington, D.C.

“York is right in the middle of everything,” Dr. Hughes notes. “This is ground zero.”

Learning from all angles

Experienced professionals at area and regional restaurants, hotels, golf courses, and other businesses come into the classroom and share their knowledge with students.

“The community of our global industry networks are an enormous support group for us,” Dr. Hughes says.

In the summers after their freshman, sophomore, and junior years, Hospitality Management students must complete a combined 800 hours of supervised work in an area of interest to them. Many students stay in York for that experience and others take on assignments around the country or overseas 

Students might return to the same employer each summer. If their first choice doesn’t seem to be a good fit, they can pick another aspect of the industry the next summer. By the time they are seniors, they might have a job waiting for them after graduation.

“Summer work helps put them on an accelerated path to a management career,” Dr. Hughes points out.

Tackling real projects

During the school year, students go into the community for “project-based learning.” One recent venture teamed students with industry experts in every aspect of renovating the landmark Yorktowne Hotel. The students observed the pros as they worked through challenges in the project, and they took on actual problems for which they had to supply solutions.

Local businesses big and small want to be involved in project-based learning programs, Dr. Hughes says.

“They get a motivated student who performs a function for them as the student gains experience. And the company might end up with a quality employee at the end of the process,” he says.

Dr. Hughes most recently serves as the Director of the Hospitality Major and Dean of the School of the Arts, Communication and Global Studies. York College invited him to come to the school to start the Hospitality program.

“I did very careful study before coming to do this,” he explains. “There is enormous support for this program. It is a growth program at York College and has demonstrated its potential to draw students from throughout the country and around world. We’ve seen great growth in a short period of time.”

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