If you’re an aspiring hospitality professional, chances are you have wondered whether or not you need to complete a hospitality internship. Unfortunately, the answer is not an easy one, because every hospitality management program has different requirements. While all schools require students to have some sort of relevant experience in the field, some programs require students to gain experience through a formal internship program and others do not. In the end, however, every hospitality student must have real world experience in the hospitality field prior to graduating and pursuing their careers in hospitality management.

Enjoying a Bright and Rewarding Career in Hospitality

While it is possible to gain entry into the hospitality industry without a degree, many large resorts and hotels often only recruit candidates who possess bachelor’s or master’s degrees. However, in addition to being an exciting industry full of possibilities, the financial rewards of working in the hospitality industry make the time spent studying well worth it. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, food service and lodging managers earned median wages of $47,960 and $46,810 respectively in 2012. Resort managers and managers of larger hotel chains, however, often make considerably more than these figures, and given the growth opportunities for hospitality professionals, the sector is known to attract bright and adventurous individuals.

The Importance of Gaining Work Experience

Whether through an entry-level position or a hospitality internship, every individual interested in working in the exciting field of hospitality management must gain valuable work experience. Thankfully, a variety of hospitality jobs are often available. In fact, according to Hospitalityinternship.com, many internships are available in Australia, New Zealand, the Caribbean, and many other exciting and exotic locales. While a person’s job duties may differ, they each allow hospitality students to learn about a company’s operations and teach them how to effectively communicate with customers, staff, and management. Entry level positions also allow individuals to learn about dealing with maintenance issues, proper personnel practices, security measures, and other routine issues.

Experience is Required for a Hospitality Degree

All hospitality management majors and minors must obtain some form of hospitality field experience prior to earning their degree. However, field experience is not necessarily an internship. Rather, field experience is simply any work experience in the hospitality field that can be considered as “hands on” learning. The positions can be anything from reservations coordinator for a cruise line or a front desk agent at a hotel to a restaurant server or a ticket agent at a theme park. As long as work experience is gained within the tourism or hospitality industry, the experience requirement for certain hospitality degree programs can be fulfilled.

Some hospitality degree programs, on the other hand, require students to gain work experience through approved internships. Typically, a hospitality internship must be conducted at a company and location approved by the school, and the internships must involve a specified number of hours as well. Given the importance of having extensive practical experience in the hospitality field, it is not surprising that some degree programs require an internship, whether formal or informal.

While there is not necessarily an internship experience requirement for a hospitality degree, every hospitality degree program does require some form of work experience in the hospitality field. However, given the exciting rewards awaiting hospitality graduates, a hospitality internship should be viewed as a fun learning and networking experience.

Interested in seeing what it’s all about?  Take a peek at “A Look Inside the Hotel Industry“.