Internships Provide Introduction To Industry
Whenever I travel for business, friends and I always marvel at how lucky we are to be doing what we’re doing in some really spectacular destinations. I often ask them, “Did you have any idea that you’d be experiencing these kinds of perks in your professional life?” Most didn’t.
I just returned from the Association for Healthcare Foodservice conference held at the magnificent Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City. Checking in at registration, Laura Atchison, AHF’s Director-Membership, Marketing & Communication, made a point to introduce me to her four interns: Kymber Stephenson from Johnson & Wales University, Denver; Caroline Uhrig and Taylor Bauer from Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind.; and Amy Barton, a dietetic intern at Texas Health Presbyterian, Dallas. At the opening reception, I had a chance to talk with a few of them, and it turns out the internships only last the week of the conference, but they require a rigorous application process, a personal essay and letters of recommendation to get a spot.
Laura told me the internships were developed not only to get good help running the conference, but also to expose the interns to our industry and help them develop contacts. Since the internship program began four years ago, two of the 11 interns through the years have been hired by people they met during their week with AHF. I spoke with several of this year’s interns about how they heard about the opportunity. For most, it was through their culinary or dietary programs at university. Stephenson, a culinary nutrition major, and I talked at length. This is what she shared:
“I had an incredible time! They absolutely spoiled us with the food and the hotel, but my favorite part was being welcomed and respected as a member. On our first day, we got to sit in on a joint Board of Directors and Industry Advisory Board meeting, and I truly saw the inner workings of the organization. All of the members were friendly and easy to talk to and genuinely interested in our experiences and ambitions. That was my greatest takeaway; the internship was filled with wonderful networking opportunities, while providing us with responsibilities that were relevant and challenging.”
These kids were enthusiastic, smart and professional—the kind of people any organization would love to hire. Thanks to opportunities like the AHF internships, they have a chance to find out about our industry, too.