Internships go virtual for Florida State hospitality students

Published: May. 18, 2020 at 3:40 PM EDT
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By: Sophia Hernandez | WCTV Eyewitness News

May 18, 2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- With hotels, country clubs and theme parks being closed, the hospitality landscape is dramatically different.

That also means that the students at Florida State Universities Dedman School of Hospitality are missing out on a hands on experience.

That is why Cynthia Johnson, the Director of the Global Club Management & Leadership program, created a new venture partnering with the Florida Chapter of the Club Management Association of America to bring the food and beverage industry to students.

The venture is an online virtual internship, which is an opportunity that many students never thought they would have this summer.

Nadia Dunrod, an FSU senior who is studying hospitality, had plans for the summer to have an internship at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in New York State.

"I was definitely excited about that, I had never been to New York this was a great opportunity," Dunrod said.

But with coronavirus concerns, it was cancelled, which left her and others to get creative.

"You do not need an internship to learn about the industry."

Or at least not a traditional one.

Dunrod, along with other FSU students, are taking part in the first ever online internship program. It consists of 29 classes, taught by 29 different club managers.

Students will learn everything from budgeting, to personalized service, to bookings.

"When you step into that first supervisory role, and you are a restaurant manager and the dishwasher breaks in the middle of service, but you have never managed a dishwasher, how are you going to lead your team through that challenge so the night is successful?" asks Mandy Long, the Director of Operational Excellence at the Club at Ibis.

Long is one of the many experts in the field who hopes students not only feel excited, but challenged.

"They understand that this is not just learning from a book, this is the real hands on, 'How am I going to be able to lead a team, and show them how to put together a floor plan if I have never done that before as a trainee,'" Long said.

These interns are limited to learning at the computer screen but are building skills that go beyond the classroom.

Long continued, "For us this is a chance to say we are still here, and we are still wanting to pour back into the hospitality students with a unique approach to an internship."

The program began on Monday. Dunrod's first class is Wednesday.

For students in the hospitality program, the internship credit is required for graduation, which is why Dunrod is grateful to their director, Cynthia Johnson, who helped to put this all together.