By: Amie Pariseau, NHLRA
In collaboration with the New Hampshire Lodging & Restaurant Association, Laconia High School hosted a Hospitality & Tourism Industry Panel last December. In attendance were 55 students from grades 9-12 to hear about industry opportunities available in the local area.
The panel featured Gail Batstone, general manager of Mill Falls at the Lake; Jay Bolduc, managing operator of T-Bones & Cactus Jack’s of Laconia; Greg Goddard, general manager, Gunstock Mountain Resort; Cynthia Makris, third generation owner/president and general manager, The NASWA Resort; Jeff Miller, director of operations, Magic Foods Restaurant Group.
From bed and breakfasts to luxury hotels, food trucks to fine dining, campgrounds to ski resorts, the hospitality industry has unique career opportunities that offer benefits and advancements for everyone. The panel was created to inform high school students that industry pathways extend beyond traditional positions such as kitchen staff, hostesses, and front desk hotel clerks.
There were three goals of the Hospitality & Tourism Industry Panel. First, each of the panelists would share their origin story of joining the hospitality industry. Students listened as Batstone spoke about her career beginnings as a nurse prior to joining the industry and Makris shared the family history that led her to be a third-generation resort owner.
The second goal was to introduce students to the pathways that can transition a job to a lifelong career. The panel focused on the overlooked positions vital to industry success including web design, social media marketing, maintenance, landscaping, accounting, IT, human resources, engineering, event management, and operations.
The last goal was to engage the students and generate their interest in the industry.
The floor was opened for questions after the panelists had time to speak. Students asked, “What is the pay like? Should I go to college to do this job? Can I go to college at the same time? How old do I need to be to work at your property?” These questions sparked additional dialogue about the importance of being a well-spoken, hard-working individual that learns from mistakes.
Each panelist left the students with thoughts to ponder.
• “You can take this field anywhere in the world.” – Gail Batstone
• “We’re made from scratch. We grow talent within our company.” – Jay Bolduc
• “Don’t have a narrow vision. There is a large set of skills this industry needs. All you need is the passion.” – Greg Goddard
• “When you’re in hospitality, you’re part of making memories which is a beautiful thing.” – Cynthia Makris
• “It’s challenging, but when you get the feedback, it’s a lot of reward. I would do it all again.” – Jeff Miller
After the panel concluded, students had the opportunity to sign up for additional industry information, express interest in a property tour, and explore internship and extended learning opportunities.
The desire is to evolve the panel and form an invaluable relationship between the hospitality industry and Laconia High School.
To learn more or to participate in future events, please contact Don Mullen, director of school counseling, Laconia High School at firstname.lastname@example.org or Amie Pariseau, education and workforce development manager, New Hampshire Lodging & Restaurant Association at email@example.com.