PUC students help open White Lodging hotel complex in Chicago

2013-06-05T18:45:00Z 2013-06-05T21:37:29Z PUC students help open White Lodging hotel complex in ChicagoJim Masters Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
June 05, 2013 6:45 pm  • 

HAMMOND | A group of 17 Purdue University Calumet students planning careers in the hospitality and tourism industry experienced the sometimes not-so-glamorous job that awaits them.

Serving a three-day mini internship with Merrillville-based White Lodging this week, the students worked alongside industry professionals to ready rooms at a new three-in-one hotel complex in Chicago that includes Aloft, Hyatt Place and Fairfield Inn & Suites. They discovered that everyone from management down was expected to join in and prepare the facility for guests.

“I hope to open up a restaurant one day,” said PUC junior Alex Petrovski, of Crown Point. “Now I realize what it takes to open up a kitchen. It’s a lot of work.”

The Advanced Hotel Operations students’ instructor, Michael Flannery, an executive with White Lodging, said the students experienced the extensive planning and manual labor that goes into preparing a hotel opening — and how everyone must pitch in to pull it off.

“They’ve been running supplies up to rooms and cleaning them, but it was also an opportunity to learn from and network with hotel executives,” Flannery said. “Most of our students already have jobs in the hotel and tourism industry, and this experience is just another piece of the puzzle for them.”

PUC junior Jessica Ramirez, of Crown Point, said she was surprised at the amount of physical labor that goes into opening a hotel, but the experience helped cement her desire to go into the hotel business, possibly in a sales role.

“It was nice coming together with my classmates to see how we worked with each other,” she said. “It made me proud to see how well we performed and represented Purdue Calumet.”

Holly Baessler, of Merrillville, described the hotel preparation process as a well-oiled machine and didn’t mind delivering ironing boards to the rooms.

“It wasn’t glamorous, but something that needed to be done,” said Baessler, a senior. “I hope to open up my own bed-and-breakfast some day, and although all the work that goes into opening up a place kind of scared me, the experience this week made me even more confident that I could do it.”

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