School of Hospitality Leadership Prepped Grad for ‘Suite’ Life | Beaufort County Now

On a recent trip to the Umstead Hotel and Spa in Cary, School of Hospitality Leadership director Dr. Bob O’Halloran met up with one of his former students, Lauren Avery. east carolina university, ECU, school of hospitality leadership, lauren avery, dr. bob o'halloran, june 26, 2019
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School of Hospitality Leadership Prepped Grad for ‘Suite’ Life

    Publisher's note: The author of this post, Rich Klindworth, is a contributor to ECU News Services.

ECU School of Hospitality alumna Lauren Avery has been moving up the ladder at The Umstead Hotel and Spa in Cary. | Photo: Cliff Hollis

    On a recent trip to the Umstead Hotel and Spa in Cary, School of Hospitality Leadership director Dr. Bob O'Halloran met up with one of his former students, Lauren Avery. The 2014 hospitality management graduate has been moving up the ladder at the luxury resort. She credits her success in part to her ECU education and networking with professors like O'Halloran.

    "I went to Dr. Bob O'Halloran for a little guidance and he pointed me in the right direction," Avery said. "I got in contact with the HR director at the Umstead Hotel and Spa and we had talked about a food and beverage position that was open, and I jumped at the opportunity."

    She landed that assistant manager job two months after graduating. Avery's start in management right out of college didn't surprise O'Halloran.

    "We really expect that from everybody that graduates from our program - because of the coursework, but also because of the internships that we require - [they] should be able to enter the industry as an assistant manager of something," O'Halloran said.

    "The school of hospitality sets you up for success," Avery said. "But then it's what you do with that."

    O'Halloran said Avery went above and beyond what was expected of her while at ECU. She worked at a Greenville restaurant, going from hostess to server to bartender to manager. She also did a study abroad program to Ecuador.

    "I'd go to school and I'd learn what it is supposed to be like," Avery said. "Then [I'd] go to work and ... put that into practice."

    "A lot of people view the hospitality industry as something you do while you're in college or it's a pass-through on the way to something else, and we are very much fighting that stereotype," O'Halloran said. "It's really our expectation if you choose the hospitality industry, you're choosing a viable career where you could go the corporate route ... or you could be an entrepreneur."

Avery credits Dr. Bob O’Halloran, director of ECU’s School of Hospitality Leadership, for helping her network after she graduated. She said O’Halloran and her other professors are very invested in their students’ success. | Photo: Cliff Hollis

    What really sells a hospitality management degree from ECU's School of Hospitality Leadership is job placement. Unless a student is going to graduate school, O'Halloran said the job placement rate is 100 percent.

    "I say that with a lot of confidence," O'Halloran said. "We're a member of the College of Business, so our degree is very much a business degree. We're a bachelor of science in hospitality management."

    O'Halloran said ECU hospitality graduates are spread across 46 states.

    "We expect success," Avery said of the hospitality management program. "The professors want you to succeed, and they teach you as much as they possibly can while you're in school, and they push you and motivate you to go out into the industry and to learn and to grow."

    For more information on the School of Hospitality Leadership, visit business.ecu.edu/shl/.

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