Conroe ISD hands-on hospitality career program completes first year

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An emerging program at Conroe ISD is providing high school students with experiential learning opportunities in the hospitality and tourism fields.

Offered through the district’s career and technical education, or CTE, department, the new hospitality and tourism practicum allows students to pursue their educational and career goals through work and study at relevant local businesses. After a one-year pilot program at Oak Ridge High School, the practicum is now completing its first full year of district-wide availability with a six-student class, and enrollment is already capped at its maximum of 15 students for the 2019-20 session.

Through the practicum, students spend a 90-minute block at the end of every school day training under professionals in hospitality-related jobs. During the fall semester, participants are sent to The Club at Carlton Woods in The Woodlands for two-week rotations in departments such as human resources, accounting, hosting, kitchen work, communications and special events.

In the spring semester, students move to The Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel & Convention Center for similar three-week rotations with an added lodging component. CISD recently partnered with Conroe’s Piney Shores Resort to add a closer option for north county students.

“The school day ‘internship’ really does blossom for them and allows them to meet so many people in the business world, in and out of the hospitality industry,” CTE Hospitality and Tourism Liaison Lindsay Bozman Callaway said. “It’s a new way of thinking, and I think it’s being embraced.”

Callaway said the program has already proven popular, reaching capacity in just its second year, and recurring members now get the opportunity to engage in longer, nine-week rotations in their specific areas of interest. Some current participants have been offered paid internships through the program, and all have meaningful additions to their resumes, she said.

“There are not very many juniors and seniors across the board who have sat through interviews, who have resumes evaluated and analyzed,” Callaway said. “They are going to leave more polished, more ready for the business world.”

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