Two W&J Seniors test the waters of hospitality industry with Hyatt internships

Created: July 21, 2020
Last Updated: July 21, 2020

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WASHINGTON, PA (July 21, 2020)—The summer of 2020 was not a typical travel season, and Colleen Kelley ’21 and Josh Burns ’21 experienced first-hand the effect COVID-19 had on tourism as interns with Hyatt Place in Dewey Beach, DE.

Colleen, a communication major with an emphasis in public relations, and Josh, a business administration major, were looking for summer opportunities to find hands on experience—something that proved a challenge considering the number of businesses forced to shutter their in-person operations as a result of the global pandemic.

The enterprising W&J seniors reached out to their connections to find available internships, leading them to the Hyatt.

“My uncle is the owner of a hospitality company that offers hospitality management services to hotels in Delaware and the surrounding area,” Josh said. “The Hyatt in Dewey Beach was their first hotel and sort of a home base for the company, so he felt we would learn the most this summer—working where it all started.”

Colleen joined the social media team for the hotel, sharing photos she took during events with the social media director. She also worked in the hotel’s restaurant managing takeaway options and promoted restaurant events with her photography, like a socially distanced beach bonfire. Josh worked in areas all across the hotel, including engineering, housekeeping, front desk management, and food and beverage management to learn about the hotel industry as a whole.

During their time as interns, the pair saw a different side of the hospitality industry unique to this time of crisis. In addition to masking requirements and implementing Hyatt’s Global Care and Cleanliness commitment building off their existing safety and cleanliness requirements, the hotel saw a reduced number of guests and truncated or eliminated summer activities in the surrounding area.

“We both feel very blessed and fortunate that we were able to do this internship in-person, and of course in a safe way,” Colleen said. “This experience has allowed us both to grow as people and learn from experiencing situations that were brand new to us.”

About Washington & Jefferson College

Washington & Jefferson College, located in Washington, Pa., is a selective liberal arts college founded in 1781. Committed to providing each of its students with the highest-quality undergraduate education available, W&J offers a traditional arts and sciences curriculum emphasizing interdisciplinary study and independent study work. For more information about W&J, visit www.washjeff.edu, or call 888-W-AND-JAY.

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