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Hospitality students rarely have the chance to practice running a hotel before they even graduate from college. But with the addition of the Courtyard by Marriott hotel on CMU’s campus, students in the hospitality services administration program get the opportunity to do just that.
Casey Hess was one of the first students to complete an internship with the Courtyard by Marriott hotel on campus.
“Not many people within the hospitality industry will get to experience opening a new hotel. It looks great on a resume, and it’s a good career builder,” said Casey.
Casey worked at the hotel for about a year and experienced nearly every facet of opening and running a hotel.
“I tell my professors all the time that I want to try everything. I want to find where I belong. Mainly, I want to help others. That’s why I chose this industry,” she said.
Casey started out working in housekeeping, but quickly made her way through the various positions, working in bistro operations, front desk operations and inspection.
“They want students to start in housekeeping and then move around and ultimately end up at the front desk. It’s important for us to learn the back of the house first.”
As a result of her experience at the Courtyard by Marriott, Casey is now taking the opportunity to travel to Italy and Switzerland with hospitality faculty member Gary Gagnon and a group of ten other students.
The hospitality students have been working with Gagnon for the past 18 months on a one-of-a-kind study abroad trip. They’ve planned every aspect of the three-week tour, from lodging to amenities and destinations.
“We’ll be visiting each city, touring hotels, learning about the culture and how the hospitality industry is run on a global scale. It’s going to be a big culture shock for us,” said Casey.
The experience has been invaluable when it comes to preparing for a career after graduation, she said.
“It’s not going to be easy, but I’m up for the challenge. I’m willing to learn more things every day, and CMU has prepared me. With hospitality, it’s not just working in hotels. It’s the personal relationship within the industry.”
The Courtyard by Marriott hotel opened on campus in July 2016.
There were only four students in the original internship, including Casey.
According to Casey, she learned the most during her time as housekeeping staff at the hotel.