Nichole Bouwman at her internship with Grand Rapids Symphony

Putting Hands-on, Business-Integrated Hospitality Education to Work

Anything and everything can happen at an event, and you have to be able to adapt and roll with it.

“I didn’t exactly choose to intern here,” says (Jeffrey) Cole Green of his internship at Marriott International Mid-Atlantic Group Sales Office in the Washington, DC, Metro Area. The senior in Hospitality Management goes on, “I interviewed against over 18,000 students and was one of five to receive this role. It really chose me.”
Green credits the Hospitality Management program’s curriculum to his success on the job, specifically the business roots that are integrated and referenced throughout the program.

“Coming from the College of Business [COB] sets us apart from all other graduates, who mostly don’t go through the same education. Many are humanities majors so the preparation is so different,” Green says. “The great faculty [at Ferris COB] helps us connect to the real world with their experiences and prepare us for when we are ready to leave. Having my degree out of the College of Business made the transition to working easy.”

His advice for other students? “If you leave work at the end of the day and have completed everything, you didn’t do your job right.” And, he suggests, “Get up and leave Michigan if you have the opportunity. It’s a big world full of opportunities.”

Nichole Bouwman, majoring in Hotel Management with an A.A.S. Restaurant and Food Industry Management and a minor in Special Events, has found a plum internship closer to home. Bouwman is working with the Grand Rapids Symphony as a Development Events and Community Engagement intern. Specifically, she is assigned to the Picnic Pops concert series, held at Cannonsburg Ski Area in Grand Rapids.

“The most valuable thing I’ve learned as an intern is to be able to go with the flow. Anything and everything can happen at an event, and you have to be able to adapt and roll with it. You have to make the best out of every situation and focus on the positives,” said Bouwman.

Bouwman was drawn to Hotel Management having grown up in the restaurant industry, including working at a fast-food restaurant owned by her parents. Helping her parents put on school fundraisers and galas piqued her interest in special events.

“Ferris has… given me so many opportunities to learn and get involved on campus,” Bouwman says. “The classes are very interactive, especially my program-specific classes. All of the teachers in the Hospitality program are very hands on and dedicated to teaching in a way that makes it easy for students to learn. My program also sets up events to give students even more experiences, like working at the International Wine and Food Festival [in Grand Rapids] and putting on their own galas,” said Bouwman.

After completing her internship, Bouwman will travel to Ireland in the fall for an internship in special events, proving Green’s point that “There’s a big world of opportunities.” She hopes to work in the customer service industry in the Grand Rapids area, and to open a special events firm.

Ferris Hospitality students have extensive internship opportunities, both nationally and internationally, which provide them valuable practical field experience.