July 26, 2004 – Second year business student Joy Deitrich has something every college student wants – a job waiting in the wings. Upon graduation she'll move into a sales manager position at the Holiday Inn. Deitrich has spent the past two summers in the employ of the hotel thanks to the Summer Hotel and Tourism Employment Program, and the successful relationship forged between the two supports the idea this program works.
This is the second year the USVI Hotel and Tourism Association has teamed up with several business partners, including the West Indian Corporation, to give high school and college students the opportunity to work in the tourism and hospitality industry. Participants, ages 16 to 20 years old, complete questionnaires to establish their interests, and are matched to jobs based on that information.
"Jobs range from beach attendants to human resources, accounting offices, to Coral World. We want to supply them with a meaningful work environment." says Beverly Nicholson, president of the Association. "We want them to stop looking at this as a career of last resort, but a select opportunity."
The program started with 75 applicants, a number that was whittled down to 40 students after a screening and interview process. "We put an emphasis on how to interview. Because of the filtering systems we got the best of the best," says Nicholson.
A ceremony Monday rewarded the best of the best with a luncheon and special recognition for perfect attendance, punctuality, best overall performance and teamwork. Thirty-five students made it all the way through six weeks of work.
Canika George John acted as project manager for the Association, and had bi-weekly contact with the students during their six weeks of employment. Each employee was also assigned a mentor on the job site. Students in the program were held to the same standards as regular employees. According to Nicholson, students in the past have been asked to continue working part time for their employers.
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