RHS Hotel Internship Program Gets Grant to Train, Place Grads in Jobs

There is a labor shortage in hotels all over the world. Professional services giant Deloitte said the industry has seen 10 consecutive years of growth, and there are more than 1.1 million current job openings in the sector in the U.S. alone.

To help fill this void, RISD continues to enhance its Hotel Internship Program at Richardson High School that began a dozen years ago.

The program recently received $7,500 and curriculum resources renewed annually from two industry nonprofits to specifically train and place more job seekers into hotel jobs in the Dallas region.

The American Hotel & Lodging Educational Foundation and Grads for Life, a part of “Empowering Youth Project,” have launched a national initiative to develop a sustainable talent pipeline of those between 16 and 24 years old for jobs in the fast-growing lodging industry. RHS is the only high school in Texas to receive the grant.

Bobbie Lynn Weir has been RISD’s Hotel Internship Coordinator for more than a decade.

She said each intern rotates every six weeks, and by end of the school year each student gains experience within five different hotel departments with RISD partners: Renaissance Dallas Addison and Marriott Courtyard/Residence Inn.

The students spend time in accounting, audio/visual, banquets, catering/sales, food and beverage, front office/front desk, guest services, housekeeping, HR, kitchen, management, restaurant, security, and valet.

This grant from two more industry partners continues to validate RISD’s initiatives that ensure all students connect, learn, grow and succeed.

“This is a huge deal for our program,” Weir said. “Our students cycle through five different career rotations each six weeks. Learning about the multiple careers in the hotel industry is so much more than just culinary arts. My students learn about hotel management, back of the house, front of the house … and I try to take a kid who may be a little shy and put them out in the front so they can learn those customer service skills that every area employer keeps asking for. These jobs are public facing — and you must be 18 to work in a hotel — and our program gives our students a great head start.”

The internships allow students to meet the requirements of Weir’s syllabus while gaining invaluable hands-on experience in the work environment.

During a routine, end-of-year, parent-teacher conference in early May, Weir received some feedback that made her day, week and year.

“I hope the administrators continue this program,” Christi Johnson told Weir. “I knew my daughter was in good hands from the first moment when you taught/made the students hem their own work pants. I’Aleah has grown this year and especially in work ethic. You are her favorite teacher.”

I’Aleah is graduating from RHS later this month and will be attending Richland College to study real estate and property management.

This Friday is the first RISD hotel job fair from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in PDC auditorium on Belt Line Road at Floyd Road across from Richardson Heights Elementary. All seniors who are graduating, at least 18 years old and planning to attend a local community colleges are invited.

After the parent-teacher meeting, Christi shared a couple photos and a few more kind words, expressing her gratitude during Teacher Appreciation Week in a way that has Weir on cloud nine.

“I want to again thank you for your assistance in raising my child, it truly takes a village,” Christi said. “You are greatly appreciated, you are the best educator I’ve seen in years. Keep shining even in your darkest days we need more educators like you. You are molding lifelong winners. Have a great day. Be blessed.”