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“I’m not sure yet what I want to be when I grow up,” Hebron High School Senior and Dale Jackson Career Center Hospitality Student Skylar Nedd said. “But this certainly opens doors and gives me experience and hands-on knowledge to start making decisions about a college major and a career.”

“This” that she mentions is an internship with the staff at the Hilton Garden Inn in Lewisville. The internship opportunity came about thanks, in part, to LEF.

In everything LEF does, the goal is to keep students and teachers at the forefront. Sometimes that means inviting Lewisville ISD students to share their expertise. In September LEF invited the students in Susan Pottorff’s Hospitality class at DJCC to participate in the 2014 Fork and Pencil event at the Hilton Garden Inn.

From there, things fell into place. “I was looking for a way the hotel could give back to the community,” General Manager Kevin Corprew explained. “When Mrs. Pottorff contacted me about an internship for her students, I knew it was the perfect fit. I already knew LEF had a high opinion of these students from sitting in on planning meetings where the student roles were discussed, and I have been impressed. I look forward to the opportunity to hire some of these students in the future.”

djcc-hgi-1-e1414699613201Students spend two mornings each week forgoing classrooms and textbooks. Instead they meet at the hotel where they are assigned a mentor and will eventually rotate through almost every aspect of hotel operations.

George Ferner, currently a senior at Marcus High School, is paired with Housekeeping Manager Letty Murillo. “It might seem like this doesn’t move me toward my goal of a career in the culinary industry,” Ferner said. “But understanding the process behind housekeeping is the foundation of a good understanding of the whole operation. Learning what information needs to be communicated to the other departments when there is a change in housekeeping is important. The experience here prepares me to be more successful in the culinary side.”

djcc-hg1-3-e1414699632986As students rotate through the various hotel operations they are taught policies and procedures and then tackle hands-on assignments. “It’s not about free labor,” Corprew explained. “Instead we are investing in them as their mentors, the same way someone mentored us when we started in this industry. Their presence is refreshing to the staff, who see this as an investment in the next generation, so it is win-win.”

Pottorff agress, and is pleased with the experience this partnership provides. “For students to find out now where their interest really is, is invaluable,” Pottorff said. “They will go to college with actual experience in this area, they will already know if they enjoy the hospitality industry before they register for classes or select a major. That puts them a step ahead of where they would be without this opportunity. It’s great that we can provide that.”