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November 26, 2008

ULM students Intern-for-a-Day at InterMountain Management

When the University of Louisiana at Monroe’s Office of Career Connections and Experiential Education approached InterMountain Management about participating in the university’s Fall Career Fair and developing an internship program, Human Resources Manager Pam Meador asked, “What can we do to stand out from other participants at the fair? And how can we build students’ interest in our internships and jobs?”

Meador had an idea: Why not have a drawing for “interns-for-a-day” as a way to introduce students to InterMountain’s work in nationwide hotel management?

At the career fair, ULM’s twice-yearly event designed to allow for students and employers to meet and network, nearly 50 students entered the drawing, and five won. Four were ultimately able to participate: Sarah Johnston, a senior marketing major from West Monroe; Lindzey Smith, a junior finance major from Farmerville; Shanna Morton, a risk management and insurance senior from Kenner; and Tiffeny Bonner, a junior business administration major from Bossier. On Oct. 24, the four went to InterMountain’s corporate office, where owner Dewey Weaver spoke to them about how he got started, where InterMountain came from, and where he saw the company going. Then representatives from each of the company’s departments shared a little about the dynamics of their departments within the company.

A visit to one of InterMountain’s local hotels followed, where the students met with the property’s general manager and the area sales manager. Getting a feel for the day-to-day operations of a hotel, its management, and sales and marketing tools in the hospitality industry were some of the professional benefits for the ULM students.

That day marked the beginning of a growing relationship between InterMountain and ULM. ULM’s Management Department Chair Dr. Bruce Walker noted, “Dewey Weaver has a forward-thinking approach to management. He is looking at the future staffing needs of his company by working with the Management Department and the Office of Career Connections. This program is a great way for our students to learn about his company and career options as well as to get excited about the chance to work for a great company.”

Meador, explaining that InterMountain already has 73 hotels in 30 states, with more than 2,400 employees, said, “We’re excited about the possibility of partnering with ULM to offer student internships in the future. With the speed at which our company is growing, we’re looking for any opportunity that would help us have management-level employees on board, trained and ready to begin working as our hotels open. With 43 new hotels opening in the next couple of years, you can see why we’d be interested in a program that trains not only hotel management employees but corporate employees as well.”

The ULM interns-for-a-day learned a lot about the hospitality industry. Marketing senior Johnston was very appreciative of the opportunity. “InterMountain’s staff gave me a better understanding of hospitality management so that it’s now a career path that I will consider. Coming now, when I’m about to graduate and make many decisions in my life, this event opened some doors and new possibilities that I would not otherwise have considered.”

Further opportunities for ULM students and this locally owned company are soon to be realized, with ULM’s Office of Career Connections and Experiential Education working with the ULM College of Business Administration and InterMountain to develop not only internships but also new career paths. Summarizing the feelings of all involved, Management Instructor Tom Denardin stated, “It is exciting to see education working directly with business, giving students the opportunity to see how their education correlates with actual business experience. This program is just one example of the great relationship between ULM and InterMountain Management.”

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