KEYSER — Sarah Twigg, a 2007 graduate of the Hospitality and Tourism Program at Potomac State College of West Virginia University, says her eight-week hands-on internship at the Ritz Carlton Golf Resort in Naples, Fla., this past summer was enlightening, fun and a great learning experience.

Now a junior at WVU, Twigg had to undergo a lengthy interview process with the Ritz Carlton before being accepted for the internship and attend two, 10-hour days of orientation that covered the rules and expectations of the establishment.

Twigg began working in Lemonia, one of the formal dining rooms, which serves only breakfast and dinner during the summer as it is considered their slow season. She trained as an a.m. and a p.m. hostess. Responsibilities included greeting the guests, taking their names, finding out if they were guests of the hotel and seating them. “Of course I had to memorize the menu and any specials that we were serving that day,” said Twigg.

After completing the dining room training, Twigg moved to in-room dining (room service) where she trained as a telephone service attendant, receiving orders over the telephone, recording them and then placing the orders with the room service servers for completion. Eventually Twigg became the sole TSA working in this position on a regular basis.

Once a TSA replacement was found, Twigg was transferred to Bella Vista, the lounge bar located in the lobby of the hotel. There she was trained as a server, responsible for greeting tables, serving beverages and meals, handling their bills and cleaning up after them.

She was also trained in food running, because the hotel only had one main kitchen that prepared food for all of the food outlets but one, and it was located on the other side of the hotel. “I used so many of the things I learned in the service class with Chef Thomas Vieli, instructor of hospitality and tourism at Potomac State,” Twigg said.

Twigg completed her intern hours quickly, yet still had nearly a month remaining on her internship, so she continued working as a TSA in the room service department where she was entrusted with responsibility, as she was the only TSA working at the time.

In addition to assisting with the training of a new manager, Twigg worked with the supervisor of all the food outlets, creating new forms and service steps for the room service department. “The manager would pretty much come to me with her idea, and it would then be my responsibility to come up with the outlined steps on how we could make it happen,” said Twigg.

Twigg summed up her internship experience this way, “The Ritz Carlton is world-renowned for their incredible guests’ services; therefore, I received extensive training in this field. I had the privilege of working with people from all over the world and the opportunity for a ‘behind the scenes’ look at a large, prestigious establishment and learned what it takes for it to run smoothly.

“This experience helped me understand the qualities needed to be a head food and beverage manager and a manager of multiple food outlets. It also taught me a lot about myself as there were times when I was placed in unfamiliar situations and had to orient myself so that I understood everything that was going on around me, as well as succeed in what I was doing. The internship was an amazing, yet challenging experience, but with the training I received in Chef Vieli’s class, I was prepared for its demands.”

Twigg, whose future plans include owning some type of hospitality establishment, is majoring in business management at WVU. She is the daughter of Patti and Terry Twigg of Short Gap.

Potomac State’s Hospitality and Tourism Program prepares students to work in management for businesses ranging from small restaurants to five-star resorts. The internship, which is mandatory for graduation, gives students hands-on experience in a variety of roles throughout the industry ranging from purchasing to food service.

A state-of-the-art demonstration kitchen serves as a laboratory for classes; students also benefit from observing fine-dining events and daily services provided by the two “working” kitchens managed by Potomac State College’s Dining Services — the Potomac Commons, on campus at University Place and the Hilltop Café, on the premises of Alliant Techsystems, Inc. in Rocket Center.

To obtain more information about the Hospitality and Tourism Program, contact the Enrollment Services Office at (800) 262-7332 or (304)788-6820 or visit www.potomacstatecollege.edu.

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