My internship has been extremely exciting because I have gotten to experience many different roles which come with many different responsibilities. When working within the restaurant I am responsible for the front-of-house staff. I am there to keep them accountable, be a resource, and help provide the best customer service. I spend time visiting each table and making sure they have received great service, helping servers provide discounts or comps when needed. Work on inventory, preparing and handling tills, deposits, and tip-outs. When it comes to the event side of things I wear a lot of different hats. I clean and set up our event space tailored to each event's needs. I polish silverware, wash linens, count and update our inventory, and clean up after events. While events are going on I am the client's point of contact there to handle anything that comes up or answer any questions. I have also had an active role as a server, bartender, and manager throughout events. In preparation for events, I meet with clients for venue tours, questions, concerns, and any last-minute changes they have. I participate in planning meetings with caterers, management, and other staff involved in the execution of events. I've most enjoyed getting to work from start to finish for each event within the planning period and execution. It is rewarding to see the outcome.
My greatest accomplishment during my internship was spending a week in charge of clients and events. I spent the week handling all contact with clients, preparing for events, and making time-sensitive decisions. I gained experience in client interaction and overall knowledge of operations within the company. During this week I was tasked to get as much preparation done as possible for the upcoming event. This was my first event, a high-class dinner with the Governor of Iowa and a presidential candidate attending. After much debate, I took the initiative on a final headcount and successfully planned the appropriate amount of catering. The event was a huge success and I was personally recognized by the client and was able to visit with the Governor of Iowa.
One of the greatest lessons I learned is to be flexible and be a team player. Being able to work with a team is extremely important to successfully operate a business and execute an event. I have also learned the importance of communication especially when it is face-to-face. Face-to-face communication and speaking directly with someone versus email or text has been extremely beneficial. It creates more of a connection and provides a deeper understanding. I’ve learned the importance of personal interaction with clients, coworkers, and other industry professionals.
What advice would you give?
My advice for future students within this major is to gain as much work experience as you can. Take every opportunity to shadow and work within the industry especially if it's something you think you wouldn’t like. I have been surprised to see what I do and don’t like from each experience. Every place is different and any experience is good experience. Experience with different kinds of events will get you that much closer to finding your niche. Networking and creating connections are extremely important. This industry thrives on connections and who you know. Try to find a mentor or someone who can help you get your foot in the door.