sealPurdue News

April 25, 1997

Increased leisure time for America equals opportunities for grads

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Rising personal incomes and increased leisure time for Americans are giving college graduates an entree to the executive suite in the hotel and restaurant industry.

"Moving up the ladder is quick in this business, especially for young people who are motivated and enthusiastic," says Professor Lee Kreul, head of Purdue University's Department of Restaurant, Hotel, Institutional and Tourism Management. "Within five years, some graduates get into top-level executive positions. Entry-level positions in this industry allow them to demonstrate they're qualified fairly early in their careers."

A 1996 U.S. Department of Labor study says jobs for hotel and restaurant managers could increase by as much as 35 percent during the decade that ends in 2005. The study indicates that those with degrees in restaurant and hotel management will have the best opportunities. Total job growth in the U.S. economy during that same period is forecast at about 13 percent.

Within six months of graduating, 81 percent of the students in Kreul's department had found employment with annual salaries as high as $33,500. Entry-level positions filled by Purdue graduates included assistant managers and management trainees, as well as general management positions.

Kreul emphasizes that although work experience is important for job-hunting graduates, nothing compares to the experience offered by study abroad and internship programs. "Employers want people who are mature and responsible, and a successful internship or experience abroad can prove that," he says.

Janet Bray, the department's recruiting coordinator, says employers see more value in an internship than in a job that a student held while in college. "An internship gives the student a chance to experience a variety of areas through rotation in order to get an overall view of the business instead of limiting them to one position as a typical job would," she says.

Artemisa Kuhn, employment manager of the Indianapolis Westin Hotel, says, "We are targeting students with training in hotel management because we are actually running low on managers."

According to Kuhn, who recruits at Purdue, the lodging industry offers college graduates the chance to go into management-training positions that could lead to promotion in a couple of years. "Some students who graduate from programs like Purdue's could be general managers in three or four years at a full-service hotel," she says. "Normally, it takes 10 to 15 years in the business to run a full-service operation."

"Right now, we are averaging about 50 postings for management positions at Westin Hotels worldwide. In this business, the jobs are there just waiting for qualified graduates."

Sources: Janet Bray, (765) 494-4729; e-mail,
Lee Kreul, (765) 494-4643
Artemisa Kuhn, (317) 262-8100
Writer: Nevy Papazian, (765) 494-2096
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; e-mail,

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