Students participate in the Chopped Team Cook-Off Wednesday May 9, 2018 while participating in the Vision Hospitality Immersion Program.

The Vision Hospitality Group and the UTC College of Business recently hosted a week-long Hospitality Immersion Program for students interested in exploring careers in the hospitality industry. Participants spent a week staying in and visiting Vision Hospitality properties and received hands-on experience in hotel management, operations, food and beverage, and marketing. The students also completed a week-long project in which they worked in teams to plan and budget for the opening of a new hotel.

“Vision Hospitality has a long history of excellence in the hospitality industry and a reputation for giving back to the community,” said Michael Jones, Interim Dean of the College of Business. “We were thrilled to partner with them to offer our students this experience.”

Chattanooga-based Vision Hospitality Group owns and manages select- and full-service hotels affiliated with the Hilton, Marriott and InterContinental brands around the United States. Their properties consistently rank in the top tiers for guest service and quality.

“One of Vision’s missions is to work closely with the members of the Chattanooga community, and any opportunity where we can give back to help support a great program will always be at the top of our list of priorities,” said Jenelle Hawkins, Corporate Training and Development Manager for Vision Hospitality. ” In this case, the fact that we got to show off all the amazing potential in the hospitality industry was just icing on the cake.”

Students who were selected to participate in this program gained  first-hand experiences at some of Chattanooga’s best properties, made valuable connections in the hospitality industry and received a certificate after completing the program.

“It was a great experience!” said participant Brooke Cummings  “I met a lot of people, learned what they expect on resumes and how to improve my interview. I also learned how many parts there are of a hotel and how long it takes to successfully create a budget for so many different aspects of a hotel.”

Throughout the week, participants focused on operations, housekeeping, food and beverage, community outreach, and marketing through fun team-oriented activities. These activities included: a “Chopped” style cook-off using typical ingredients in a hotel kitchen; volunteering to pack boxes at the Chattanooga Area Food Bank; creating real-world presentations in their selected field of study; and cleaning hotel rooms to learn about housekeeping.

“The leadership skills and lessons taught were great,” agreed student Lisa Meinken. “Also the insight and real world experience of the hospitality industry was unique to the program. I learned a lot about corporate culture and how to find an organization that is the right fit for me.”

The participating students and host organizations agree that this program was a success.

“The best thing about the week was the level of passion and commitment from the students, most of whom have never worked in hospitality before,” Hawkins said. “We are thrilled with how the program seemed to really make an impact on the students, even if they don’t choose hospitality as a career.  We made an impact and that’s the most important thing.”

To view high resolution photos from this program, visit our Flickr album: 

Click here for a video with program footage and interviews from throughout the week: 


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