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Using an internship to get a foot in the door

Hands-on Experience Gives Students Skills for the Future

Zack Newman didn’t always want to work in hospitality. He planned to get a degree in business. Then the pandemic hit.

Newman decided a shift to hospitality would give him the chance to help people as well as give him flexible career options. He chose AACC’s Hotel, Culinary Arts and Tourism Institute for his fresh start.

One requirement of the Hospitality Management program is to obtain an internship in hotel or restaurant management, so Newman applied to the Gibson Island Club – an internship he learned about through his AACC connections.

“It's one thing to just sit there and just learn it in your head, but once you really do it, that's when you know you can do it or not,” he said.

Newman gained hands-on experience, including preparing for banquets and working with high-end food like caviar and oysters, in the kitchen. While he ultimately discovered he enjoys working in the kitchen more, he valued learning about the different aspects of the industry.

"I got to see what else went into the front of the house, and why our prep is so important to help make sure the event goes so smoothly,” he said. “Because food is really the majority of an event, in my opinion. Everybody goes for food.”

Learning to multitask may have been the most important skill he learned, but the best part of the internship was landing a full-time position there.

Newman earned his Associate of Applied Science in hospitality management and followed it up with a certificate in event planning and catering, but he doesn’t plan to stop learning. “Every day there's something new to learn, whether it is a new knife skill or a new technique on how to cook things,” he said.

He recommends that everyone, no matter their discipline, use an internship to get experience in the field.

“It's hard to get into places with no experience, so (the internship) definitely helped,” he said. “Once you just get in there and you prove yourself and work hard every day, then that's when the world's the limit. You can just do anything you put your mind to.”