What it’s like to Work at a Hawaii Hotel
These Hospitality & Hotel Management students are on externships in Kauai.
We check in with two hospitality students who left the mainland for luxury hotel experience.
Christine Fin and Nick Jacobs both had backgrounds in the restaurant industry when they enrolled at ICE’s New York campus to pursue hospitality careers.
“ICE's hospitality program was a fantastic method to bridge my previous experience with new knowledge in a new career for me,” Nick said.
Christine grew up in Italy and heard about the program from her grandmother. “The classes are small in number and that means creating good relationships and having a one-on-one daily exchange with your instructors who actually know who you are and take an interest in you as an individual.”
Both students had experience serving and bartending, enjoyed interacting with people for a living and began interviewing at hotels in New York City when Dean of Restaurant & Hospitality Management Rick Camac shared an externship opportunity at a luxury property with new ownership in Hawaii.
“SH Hotels & Resorts purchased a St. Regis property and is converting it to a 1 Hotel,” Rick explained. “My contact at 1 Hotel here put me in touch with their corporate HR department in L.A., which ultimately got us the opportunity in Hawaii.”
After interviews with HR and department managers, Christine and Nick each decided to take advantage of the unexpected opportunity to extern at Princeville Resort in Kauai, where ICE has now sent six hospitality students.
“When would I ever have an opportunity like that in my life?” Christine, who found the service industry exciting because every day is different, recalled thinking. “In three days I was all packed and on a plane to Kauai to work at a five-star luxury resort.”
Nick echoed her sentiment. “I knew it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and therefore absolutely had to take it up.”
Nick has had two and three-week rotations in a range of positions: bell clerk, front desk agent and night auditor. “I have never worked a position in my life that has allowed me to grow so much as a professional in my new career with a new company (and one which is growing at that),” he said. “When I'm not at work I am normally fishing, growing my Hawaiian T-shirt collection, making a late-night fire on the beach or convincing myself my sunburn is a tan.”
Christine started in food and beverage, where she had the most experience, followed by in-room dining and banquets. “Most importantly, after a month I got to be the administrative assistant for the catering sales manager, so I was helping with showing the property to prospective clients, [and working with] contracts, banquet event orders (BEO), meetings and events, which made me really happy,” she said. “I was able to get the experience I was craving to get in the event industry and you couldn’t top the location.”
Both students have a few more months to complete their externships on the island and reflected on how Hospitality & Hotel Management classes have impacted their work.
“ICE's program was essential especially when it came to understanding the lingo of the business (ADR, occupancy percentage, fast posting, etc.). There is so much,” Nick said. “The other major skill I learned at ICE was the mathematics to allow myself to take up my night auditor position with confidence. It is accounting 101, and as someone who had not taken a math course in nearly a decade, it was incredibly helpful to be refreshed.”
Nick is considering working at 1 Hotel properties in California, Florida or New York. “I have also had the idea to return to Princeville once the renovations on this property are complete and continue to live here,” he said, having invested in all those Hawaiian T-shirts.
Christine found her calling in the catering sales department and plans to pursue similar positions at the hotel brand’s properties in New York. “ICE was a great start for me and it definitely prepared me for the real-world workplace,” she said. “I’m keeping an open mind to possibly travel a little and get worldwide experience.”
Get the foundation for a hospitality career in New York or beyond in ICE's Hospitality & Hotel Management program.