Southeast Missouri State University senior Linda Epley of St. Louis County, says she’s soaked up a tremendous amount of knowledge about the field she plans to enter this summer as an intern with Lodging Hospitality Management (LHM) at the Union Station Hotel in downtown St. Louis.
The company owns 17 hotel properties, so there are a lot of possibilities for her, she says. She is a rooms division intern and has gotten to work in several departments, including front desk, guest relations and housekeeping.
“I have been able to put what I learned in the classroom to use,” said Epley, a hospitality management major.
She said she chose the hospitality management field because she enjoys working with people and had previous experience in the service industry. She says her advisor, Dr. Quantella Anderson-Noto, was extremely helpful in her finding this internship. Epley began visiting Noto’s office more frequently and was able to get in touch with several contacts she suggested.
“She gave me five business cards, and after researching the businesses, I set my sight on LHM,” Epley said.
When working in guest relations, Epley was able to experience the life of bell staff, doormen, valets and executive lounge attendants. She said she liked this department because she got to interact with guests the most and help make their trip memorable.
One of her favorite memories happened while she was working the front desk, she says. Epley met a young couple that was in town celebrating their first anniversary, and she wanted to help make it special. She knew they had dinner plans out, so she made sure a bottle of wine and truffle platter would be in their room when they returned.
“The hotel empowers its employees to do what it can to make sure the guest has an amazing experience,” Epley said. “I had such a great time talking to them and hearing about the wedding, so I knew I wanted to do something for them.”
Epley has also gotten the opportunity to shadow the sales and catering department, and the convention managers. She says she has learned so much about the field and even applied for a sales coordinator position with the company.
“I have learned so much about the operations at a hotel,” she said. “I have improved my customer service skills. This job has something new to offer every day, and that’s what I love about it. I’m always learning something or doing something different.”
After Epley completes her internship, she plans to graduate from Southeast in August. She says she hopes to stay in St. Louis and continue working in the hotel industry.
She offers this advice to Southeast students:
“I would tell them to keep in touch with their advisors during their search for an internship. It was so much easier with help than it was going at it on my own,” she said. “Before I started talking to my advisor about it, I was overwhelmed with the possibilities – where I wanted to go, what I wanted to do, did I want to stay in Saint Louis? I had so many questions. Definitely work with your advisor, be outgoing, make connections and be persistent. Also, be patient. I interviewed in early March and didn’t have an offer until almost the middle of April. It was nerve-racking, but it all worked out. Just believe in yourself and your potential. It will work out for you!”