my internship experience

Alison Good '09, a Business Administration major, Environmental Studies minor and captain of the equestrian team from Kennebunkport, Maine, spent nearly four months as a sales and marketing intern with U.S.Hotels this summer. The family-owned hospitality company oversees seven properties, including the renowned White Barn Inn in Kennebunkport, the only AAA Five Diamond, Mobil 5 Star restaurant northeast of New York and a member property of Relais & Chateaux, an association of some of the finest lodging and dining establishments in the world.

How did you find this internship opportunity? What was the application process like?

For the last three summers, and during every school break, I have worked for one of the companies in the US Hotels Group – Grissini Italian Bistro. My manager at Grissini recommended me for the internship, and it was through her that I had an interview. After that, I had to interview with my supervisor and the manager of human resources to see if I would fit into the position. The process wasn't as bad as I had expected because I already knew some of the people in the company, but it was still a little nerve racking!

What were your responsibilities as an intern?

I had a variety of duties which involved almost every aspect of the hospitality industry. I planned events such as weddings and banquets, and met with potential customers to show each of our properties. I worked in all three of the restaurants in both the front and back of the house. I also was responsible for making reservations at each of the properties for our guests. Each task I had was important because it directly involved making and keeping our guests happy. People have high expectations when they come to stay or dine with us, so it is extremely important to uphold the standards we set.

What skills were required to fulfill this internship?

There were many, but the most important would be customer service skills. I worked directly with our guests, so it was crucial that I came across as confident and responsible. Management skills were also important because sometimes it's impossible to complete everything on a day-to-day basis; to get things done efficiently I had to become good at delegating and managing my tasks with other employees.

How does this internship intersect with your studies at Colby-Sawyer? What specific courses did you find helpful?

There is no hospitality major at Colby-Sawyer, but I don't believe that hurt me while completing my internship. The classes I have taken all proved beneficial, especially Management, Business Applications of the Computer, and Marketing. I used the skills from these classes daily, and without them I don't believe I could have done as well. As a Business major you learn every aspect of running a business, and I believe Colby-Sawyer does an excellent job of covering each and every tool you need in order to succeed.

What challenges did you face, and what triumphs did you enjoy, during your internship?

As soon as I got to the office on my first day, I was off to meet with a guest about setting up a dinner party. I hadn't expected to get thrown right into things on the first day, let alone the first hour! We planned every aspect of the evening, including the menu, entertainment, seating and so on. From there I went on a tour of each of the properties and met their managers. After learning about the properties, I was assigned to organize the press clipping we have had in the last year for each of the properties. This was a great opportunity to learn what market each of the properties is in, and to learn the basics of where and why we market our company the way we do.

I got to work alongside Jonathan Cartwright, executive chef of The White Barn Inn and chief operating officer of US Hotels Group, so each and every day was a learning experience; it is almost impossible to pick my favorite day. I would say the best day I had on the job was getting to meet a celebrity and plan her wedding for next summer. At first I was extremely nervous, but after riding around in her car touring our properties with her and her fiancé I felt a lot more comfortable! Working in a five-star inn like The White Barn, I got to see a lot of famous faces and important people, so each day was exciting!

What have you learned during your internship that might be useful in your professional life?

I learned so much more than I could have imagined from my internship; it gave me a direction in which I want to go after I graduate. The biggest surprise for me doing this internship was the fact that each day I woke up excited to go to work. I never thought I would be able to say that about working, and now I truly know what it feels like to have a job you love!

When you talk to your friends and family about your internship, what do you tell them?

One day when I was working in the office, I got a phone call from Jonathan Cartwright over in the White Barn kitchen prepping for dinner. They were so far behind that he called me to come over and help. I had never worked in the kitchen in my life, so with a little hesitation, I went over in my skirt and heels to help out! My task was to make our famous lobster spring roll, which I had no idea how to make. So there I was, standing next to a highly trained chef making lobster spring rolls! It was a really fun day - a bit scary, but definitely an experience I will remember.

Do you think this internship confirm or alter your career plans?

This internship definitely confirmed that I want to go into the hospitality industry. I would absolutely love to work for this company ... we will see!

Is Colby-Sawyer's requirement of completing an internship beneficial?

I think completing an internship is the most beneficial requirement at Colby-Sawyer. It gives you an opportunity to use the skills that you have learned and apply them to real-world experiences. Without this internship, I would still be wondering what I want to do after I graduate!