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"The Large Firms all Come to Cornell's Career Fairs to Recruit"

Founded in 1922, Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration hardly needs a Career Services Office, any more than Rolls Royce needs salesmen to move its cars. The school maintains a fantastic Career Services Office all the same that links companies offering jobs with interested students. Steven A. Carvell, associate dean for academic affairs at Cornell's School of Hotel Administration, says 30 to 50 large companies show up every year for two big career fairs.

Founded in 1922, Cornell University's School of Hotel Administration hardly needs a Career Services Office, any more than Rolls Royce needs salesmen to move its cars. The school maintains a fantastic Career Services Office all the same that matches up dozens of companies offering great jobs with interested students. It also organizes two career fairs that attract heavyweights in the hospitality industry.

“We run two career fairs here. We run one in the Fall which is a general one where 30 to 50 large companies show up here and recruit our students,” said Steven Carvell, associate dean for academic affairs at the School of Hotel Administration, in Cornell University, at Ithaca.

“In the Spring, we run another career fair focused on real estate,” he added.

Carvell is the co-author of "In the Shadows of Wall Street” and has taught finance courses at the school since 1986. Carvell’s research is directed toward new approaches to hotel valuation and investment decisions.Carvell talked to Uttara Choudhury in New York about how the career fairs are organized for their four-year Bachelor in Science in Hotel Administration undergraduate and Master of Management in Hospitality (MMH) graduate students. 

The school also has a commitment to research and produces the next generation of leaders in hospitality education through Cornell’s highly individualized Master of Science (MS) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programs in hotel administration.

Please give us a rundown of the Master of Management in Hospitality (MMH) program.

The MMH program in general right now is a 12-month program. We don’t think of it as one year because it literally runs non-stop for 12 months. We think it is a great program. The program does require you to have work experience. We would like three to five years of work experience. We might take a little less, but not much less. The reason for that is that it is a 12-month program and when you leave you need to already have work experience so that you can launch your career. There is no summer internship and so on like the two-year program. The average student age is about 26-27.

In some sense it is a microcosm of our larger undergraduate program and students tend to focus on their career as soon as they get here. They usually have an idea about what they want to do even before they arrive at the door whether it is operations management, real estate, marketing or human resource. They have a sense of where their career path is going. We have a short break that goes on between Christmas and the third week of January, maybe a month-long, or less, where some of our students go out and do an externship during that period of time. I hope it would be paid but it is outside our purview as the externship is not set up by us.           

What are the prerequisite online courses an applicant to a MMH program completes once they are admitted?

Once a student has been admitted to the MMH program, he or she will be registered for six online pre-courses available through the eCornell system on accounting, finance and statistics. Successful completion of these courses is required to begin the MMH program. 

We create those courses here. In fact, I wrote two of those three courses. Some of our applicants have been out of school for three or four years so we want to make sure that they are not rusty. We want to make sure that when everybody arrives here they are on fairly equal footing. Again, it is a 12-month fast-paced, condensed program so we need everyone to be on the same page at the start of the program.  

Applicants for the MMH program have to submit official transcripts, GMAT, TOEFL/IELTS scores. Do they also have to write essays?

Yes, we require all these things. They also have to interview which is critical to the admissions process. 

Would you say that the GMAT scores, the two letters of recommendation and the interview are the real clincher in sealing a spot in the MMH program?

We don’t look to see if applicants have the highest TOEFL scores, our objective is to make sure that everyone can be conversational in English and participate in the classroom. The GMAT is a big issue as well as work experience and the essay. I don’t know if we require letters of recommendation but we do get them. We expect applicants to send in only good letters so they are not really differentiators.    

Are there specific campus recruitment events for MMH students?

Yes, we run two career fairs here. We run one in the Fall which is just a general one where 30 to 50 different companies show up here and recruit our students. Of course, those are usually the larger companies because a company needs to be looking for at least three to five people in order to make it worth their while to come here. We have dozens and dozens of companies who have one job and we have a Career Services Office that helps pare those with interested students.

In the Spring, we run another career fair focused on real estate. That is a big issue in this industry. Here you are looking at people who are much more focused on finance and the quantitative side of the business, business modeling. A real estate investment trust (REIT) that invests across the full spectrum of senior housing and health care real estate might come to this fair as well as investment banks with hotel industry portfolios.

Both the fairs are for our hotel school students, both undergraduates and MMH students.      

What jobs do people with a Master of Science (MS) or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in hotel administration go onto?

The MS and PhD are education degrees. After the MMH, people go to jobs all over the place from big hotels, to Expedia to consulting firms but the MS and PhD program is really designed for people who want a career in academia. The MS and PhD degrees are highly individualized programs directed toward students who plan to teach and perform research in a university setting. Once accepted into either program, students will select a Special Committee of graduate faculty members (two for MS candidates and three for PhD candidates), who will guide the candidate in developing a course of study suited to his or her background and interests.

Candidates for either degree will develop a broad-based knowledge of hospitality management; learn research methodology, including statistical methods; become proficient at in-depth research; and acquire teaching and administrative skills.

Affordable housing as you know is a top concern for international students. How much housing does Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration have for students, and what is the best way to secure housing on a student budget?

The housing that we have is part of Cornell University and there are quite excellent dormitories on campus. Any interested student can go onto the Cornell university website and check it out. Depending on what you desire there is student housing at every price point. 



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