UCF Hospitality Graduates Find Work as Tourism Industry Recovers from Pandemic
As the COVID pandemic took hold in March 2020, Valerie Contreras lost her jobs as a Disney hotel concierge and server at a Kissimmee restaurant, both within five days. Like her fellow students at UCF’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management, 25-year-old Contreras from Mesa, Ariz., worried about the future of the hospitality industry and her career prospects within it. But in October, she landed a year-long salaried internship with the Four Seasons Hotel in Atlanta through networking at Rosen. She starts it later this month. Despite hospitality jobs remaining below pre-pandemic levels, the 315 undergraduate students who graduated from Rosen in December reported around a 95% expected employment rate by their commencement. Alan Fyall, associate dean of academic affairs at Rosen, said the employment figures for fall 2021 graduates have been “excellent.” He said the college’s data shows recent graduates are working around 30 hours per week, on average. Additionally, 60% of them are working for companies they interned with while at Rosen, he said.