There was movement, laughter, role-playing, and interaction on Saturday, Jan. 21 in the School of Hospitality Business.  Nearly 50 selected students gathered at Brody Hall for the Spring semester Dale Carnegie Professional Development Program (DC PDP), custom-designed for future leaders of student clubs and events in the School.

The morning was spent focusing on two important concerns of the students:  Learning and using names and handling guest complaints and/or conflicts.  Dale Carnegie Master Trainer Phil Zeller (BA Hospitality Business ‘96) created and taught the session with assistance from Abby Hart (BS ’20) and Dale Carnegie (and School!) graduates Matthew Anderson (BA  Hospitality Business ’09) and Dr. Ron Cichy (BA Hospitality Business ’72, MBA ’77).  “Our goal is to introduce students to the principles and practices of Dale Carnegie, making them relevant to their current lives and future application,” says Dr. Cichy, who teaches senior courses in leadership and hospitality business strategy in The School.

After short introductions and a presentation on the principles of paying attention, learning names, and using unique tools to remember them, students even learned a “rap” – yes, a rap – from Dr. Cichy that produced not just participation, but a fair amount of laughter.  Samantha Schwanz (BA Hospitality Business ’17), CEO of the School’s Spartan Enology Society, says, “I learned surprisingly unique tools to assist me with remembering people and paying attention.”

The students also had a chance to discuss their internship experiences (two internships are required in the School’s curriculum), including the challenges and uncertainties that they faced.  After short presentations on worry and stress, as well as handling complaints, the students split into groups of four based on the segment of the hospitality industry they are interested in pursuing.

The interaction continued after a demonstration and short worksheet on resolving complaints.  Working with partners, the students role-played conflict situations.  The role playing was at times raucous, at times creative – but it was always relevant to the students’ internships and future industry experiences.

“I learned how to better remember names and manage the hectic lifestyle of someone who has to manage multiple tasks at the same time in a hotel environment,” says Peter Morrison (BA ’20).  Another student, Leslie Chen (BA ’20), says “When I signed up for this program, I thought it was just going to be a guest speaker sharing his tips.  However, it turned out to be very interactive and hands-on and allowed me to connect to everyone.  It exceeded my expectations.”  But the Professional Development Program also provided the students with confidence.  Kirby Kiyoko Homer (BA ’19) admitted, “Walking into the Dale Carnegie PDP, I was extremely nervous; I hate speaking in front of people.  This PDP helped me open up a little and not be so tense about speaking.”

The PDP offered students a glimpse into the full, 12-week Dale Carnegie Course offered each semester for 5-6 students leaders in the School.  In fact, Cameron Thomas (MS Hospitality Business ’18), a graduate student involved in numerous School clubs, said that in addition to getting him out of his “comfort zone,” helping to connect him to others, and learning some valuable strategies for remembering names, he also “gained a greater understanding of what the Dale Carnegie Course is all about.”

The Dale Carnegie PDP and 12-week Courses are offered to students with funds from generous alumni and friends of the School.  Dr. Cichy, who spearheads the Dale Carnegie programs in the School, said afterward, “From start to finish, there was an energy level in the room that surpassed previous Dale Carnegie Professional Development Programs.  The true measure of the program’s value will be when the students are on their summer internships, practicing these skills and using a hospitality attitude.  In addition, the hope is that many of those who attended the PDP, either in the Fall or Spring, will become elected Hospitality Association clubs and events leaders in the School next year.”

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