There are two required components of fieldwork in the School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management (HRTM): the practicum (HRTM 290) and the internship (HRTM 495). One of the unique aspects of the School of HRTM at the University of South Carolina, and one of the true strengths of the program according to industry professionals, is the requirement for a practicum and an internship. The fieldwork must take place in a hospitality or tourism-related business that is appropriate to the area of emphasis or the career goals of the student. The types of acceptable locations include, but are not limited to, resorts, country clubs, restaurants, hotels, contract foodservice companies, event planning companies, vineyards, CVBs, and attractions. It is important that the student choose a practicum/internship site that closely relates to their career interests.
The HRTM 290 Practicum Information Form can be found here
The first component of the fieldwork, called the practicum, affords the student the opportunity to "test drive” a position in a hospitality or tourism organization in which they have an interest. A practicum is a supervised work experience with a hospitality and/or tourism organization. It is typically similar to the work that an entry level employee would expect to do and is meant to give the student a work experience in an area in which the student wishes to have a career. The practicum will allow the student to direct their electives, most of which are scheduled after the practicum, in an area they decide to focus on based on their experience. This is a good opportunity for a student to decide what segment they are interested in within the hospitality or tourism industries. If the student decides the field they chose for their practicum is not for them they still have time to adjust to another area in the hospitality and tourism industry. The practicum requirements are outlined below:
- 400 hours of work experience in any entry level position in the hospitality or tourism industry
- Position may be rotational, but is not required for the practicum
- Typically completed during the first summer in the HRTM program
- Assignments completed throughout the semester
- Mid-term and final assessments completed by the employer of the intern
The HRTM 495 Internship Information Form can be found here
The internship is typically completed the summer prior to graduation. The internship should be completed in the area of interest of the student. For example, if the student wishes to complete a focus in Club Management, then their internship should be in a club. In order to be approved, the internship needs to be a supervisory/managerial role, formalized internship, or rotational position (required to rotate throughout 3 positions). It is hoped that the final internship can be the student "s entry into the work force and lead to a fulltime, supervisory position in the hospitality and tourism industry. The internship requirements are outlined below:
- 400 hours of work experience in any managerial position, formalized internship, or rotational position (required to rotate throughout at least 3 positions) in the hospitality or tourism industry
- Typically completed during the summer before graduation or after all other course requirements have been met
- Assignments completed throughout the semester
- Mid-term and final assessments completed by the employer and intern
Fieldwork is usually selected based upon one of two criteria. The first is that the fieldwork will serve as a real learning experience. I expect students to select fieldwork that will help them meet their career objectives. Students should not select fieldwork based upon its convenience (due to ease in obtaining it, location, pay, someone they know, etc.). While students may need to carefully consider location and pay, it is also critical they select an organization that will help them learn and will help them obtain a job. Fieldwork should be the most important learning experience in your college career. Do not waste it. Think about the career you want in hospitality and tourism and begin to find organizations that will help achieve entry into that career field.
Students are required to work a minimum of 400 hours in an approved hospitality or tourism business environment. An orientation session is held every semester to prepare students on what to expect from their practicum/internship experience. Students must complete a series of written and online assignments to be posted on the USC Blackboard Website. Students are also evaluated by a manager at the practicum/internship site who supervises the student's work. Students should make an appointment with their supervisor to go over the online evaluation.
Benefits to Students:
Practicums and internships provide students with more than practical work experience in the industry. Recruiters tell us over and over that they value practicums and internships as significant career-builders, and strongly consider these experiences in making hiring decisions.