Weekly Feature

2017-02-16 / Front Page

Maryvale students gain experience, confidence at job ‘Fly-In’

by BRYAN JACKSON
Editor

Breaking into the working world after high school or college can be a mind-wracking series of events, but a group of Maryvale students is hoping to put those jitters to rest years before they’ll be entering the job market in earnest.

Students from Maryvale High School’s first-year Academy of Hospitality and Tourism traveled to Buffalo Niagara International Airport last week for a Career Fly-In, which allowed them to learn about area companies and the process of interviewing for jobs.

Representatives from companies including Prior Aviation, Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, JetBlue, Delaware North and the Transportation Security Administration gave students snapshots of their respective organizations, held mock interviews and answered student questions about the industry.

The ability to gain practical experience was one of academy student Matt Brown’s biggest takeaways from last week’s Career Fly-In.

“They all gave us certain expectations that their company has, and most of them were all the same. They all want good communication skills ... they all wanted hardworking people and ones that are ready to learn,” he said. “That was all definitely useful.”

Brown, who said he would like to own his own car dealership, was also surprised at the number of companies that touch the hospitality and tourism industry.

“I really wasn’t expecting some of the companies to be hospitality-related,” he said. “Prior Aviation, I wasn’t expecting them at all. [The representative] explained there’s so much behind the scenes. He described it as you’re constantly talking to people and you’re constantly making them feel comfortable with Prior.”

According to Kathleen Wild, the AOHT director, the feedback from both students and industry representatives has been overwhelmingly positive, citing exit surveys completed by the businesses that attended.

“They were just commenting on how prepared [the students] were, how professional they were and really how they did their homework to research each of the companies and really asked very important questions that would make them stand out, if it was a real career fair,” she said.

The academy’s initial cohort comprises about 20 sophomores, and recruitment of incoming freshmen for next year’s group has already begun. Students enter the academy in their freshman year, and during the next three-plus years, they are introduced to a mix of experienced based programs — such as the Fly-In — as well as traditional coursework, including the current class, which introduces the principles of hospitality and tourism and traces the industries through the decades.

The academy’s goal is to establish a school-to-work partnership that prepares its students for education and careers in the hospitality and tourism industries. The AOHT is affiliated with the National Academy Foundation, and although Maryvale’s program is in its infancy, it is already attracting the attention of businesspeople in the region — many of whom serve as advisory board members — as well as district officials. That support has been a boon to the academy in the early going, Wild said.

“The academy is only as good as our advisory board and our community partners,” she said. “That’s when the students are going to gain the best experience from our academy.”

Moving forward, Wild hopes to increase the academy’s sustainability through more outreach activities such as the Career Fly-In, and she praised the current students, saying their faith in the fledgling program is a testament to their ability to think outside the box.

email: bjackson@beenews.com

Editor's note: Enterprise Holdings, Inc. also participated in last week's Career Fly-In.

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