Students everywhere return to the classroom this Spring. Springtime is also known for the hospitality industry’s return to “THE BUSY SEASON“…or in present day – the CRAZY busy season in addition to the rest of the busy year – if you are anything like KE! Due to this high volume of business, we have welcomed a whole set of talented student interns into our office in the past few weeks to learn about the industry first hand and support our brand in our efforts to seek out new talent. How did we come across these ambitious and budding young professionals? Here’s how.
This past Fall, KE staff members attended several South Florida Universities and spoke with students in hospitality based courses. Each KE staff member represented a different department within our organization and provided students opportunities to look at the meetings and events industry from various angles. SENIOR SALES MANAGER REBECCA YOAKUM attended FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY’S campus and spoke with two different classes with separate focuses. One set of students were studying “special events” and another “meeting planning.” Yoakum was invited to guest speak by Professor Dan Cormany, a previous industry colleague. He needed Yoakum to share her expertise on the destination management view of the industry. Here is a bit about how it went:
Q) What was the experience like for you…speaking to the next generation of event professionals?
A) To be honest, it’s kind of funny. I was actually having a really busy day at the office and felt burdened by having to go do this. What I discovered, after I had arrived and given my presentation, then opening up the floor to the students for questions…was that they (the students) had a lot of really interesting questions. I really appreciated their high level of engagement and I got so much out of this experience. They were so interested in learning about the business.
Q) For an events industry Sales Manager, Fall is a big selling time for you. What made you accept the invitation to speak in the first place?
A) My relationship with Dan was a part of it and I was honored to be invited. He’s a tremendous leader so I have the utmost respect for him. I also believe that it is important that we take time to encourage and help grow the next generation of event professionals. Koncept Events made it possible for me to go do this in the middle of the work day as well because they often bring on student interns and this is one of the best ways to find the truly passionate individuals out there.
Q) What did you like about the program the school offers?
A) It looks like they have a great set up. They have clearly invested in their hospitality degree seeking program. What I found most unique was the variety of students in the two classes I spoke to. It wasn’t just young, first time students, but there were numerous students that had extensive career experience and had been out in the field. They were coming back for further education and growth.
Q) So what struck you the most about the types of questions and comments the students shared?
A) I was impressed by how many of the students, both inexperienced and experienced, had really unique entrepreneurial ideas. One student shared with me her business plan for this large scale dating service in which she provides these over the top experiences and magical date moments. I was intrigued to see so many students focused on their education but already diving into the events industry at the same time. Those are the kinds of ambitious interns we look for at KE.
Q) KE has trained and fostered many interns over the years. How does your experience in the classroom translate to these work/life experiences for these students?
A) So at the end of the class I stayed after and allowed students to approach me one-on-one. Many of them expressed interest in working for a DMC and so I gave them my card. We then had quite a few students contact us and they came in for formal, professional interviews. For some students this is not their first internship and they are exploring the various options for careers in events and learning what they like…and for others this is their first foray into the work world. But for us, it’s great to have this opportunity to pull from this incredible pool of talent and find some students that really want to grow. Myself and so many people on the KE team love having an opportunity to mentor.
KE currently has two hard-working and very talented interns on staff. Each of these event professionals in the making work very hard and are experiencing all aspects of each department with in the KE office.