Fine food, adventurous travel and memorable social events…no, we’re not talking about popular cable TV shows. We’re talking about the accelerated Hospitality and Tourism Management program at Olds College.
Program coordinator Bob Van Someren said the popular program, in its third year, is unique as a 10 month on-campus accelerated diploma with paid work experience. It’s the only program for hospitality and tourism in North America from an accredited post-secondary institution that students can earn their diploma in 10 months.
For the most part, the hospitality and tourism program’s classes are offered on-campus, but Van Someren said this program lends itself well to some very educational, and very interesting field trips. He said the hospitality and tourism industry is eager to work with Olds College on “hands-on” learning, so field trips to see how real operations work are common. “We’re in a really fun industry,” said Van Someren. “When we go into the field, it’s always curriculum-based, but we don’t apologize that we’re in a fun industry.”
A few years ago Van Someren said he was asked by the Olds College administration to develop a unique hospitality and tourism program for the post-secondary institution, and he said looking across North America, there didn’t seem to be any accelerated hospitality industry program available, and he agreed with the college that the program should focus on producing “people persons” with a strong “hands-on” education. Included in the program’s curriculum is a strong streak of entrepreneurship that combined gives the graduates a sense of ownership of the hospitality and tourism industry. Another important part of the program was a heavy emphasis on customer service excellence and experience.
What will students study in the hospitality and tourism program? The program centers on applied hands-on learning including numerous industry field excursions. Van Someren stated courses include internal accounting, management, human resources, marketing, security and risk management, global tourism, rural, heritage and food, tour guiding,, leisure, sporting events and recreation, product development, entrepreneurship and others.
The program also includes a work experience element at a real business.
“So when we combine those elements, our students leave having a good idea of the overall expectation of a business or employer in this industry,” said Van Someren.
The program also includes the experiences of a strong group of instructors, including Van Someren himself. He said hospitality and tourism offers a group of instructors who have real-world industry experience, some who’ve owned their own businesses in the hospitality and tourism world and in other areas coupled with years of experience as instructors.
“Our team is absolutely committed to success, and we all buy into the applied learning philosophy,” he added.
The program has an emphasis on management with additional business courses and hands-on project work. Students start their program at the end of August, study until the following April and then come back in September for residency. And to help manage events for the program’s incoming class.
Van Someren said the hospitality and tourism program is not aimed at any specific demographic. “Typically, we get students aged 18 to 24, but we get some more mature students too,” he said.
The academic requirements for the program are basic: high school diploma or equivalent, but Van Someren said the college looks at students who have different qualifications. He said high school math and English are required in the hospitality industry but Olds College is willing to work with prospective students who want to attend.
College students are usually there for one reason: to give themselves an education which allows for better career options. What are the job prospects for a Hospitality and Tourism Program grad? Van Someren said the industry is looking for educated, enthusiastic managers and staff. “The industry wants people who are interested in a career, and college students tend to be long-term employees,” said Van Someren.
He said there are great career opportunities worldwide: some of the recent grads are spending the summer working in Banff, bartending, car rentals, at Lake Louise, in Kananaskis, spas, concert services and one has landed an internship at Disney World in Florida. Van Someren said he’s proud of the grads and the impression they make. “When they show up for an event, it’s like game on and they are so professional.”
The next program begins Aug. 26. More information is available online at www.oldscollege.ca or by calling 1-800-661-6537.