At the Hart School, you won’t just gather in classrooms to analyze and discuss things you’ve read in a textbook. You’ll learn by doing. By engaging in powerful, impactful educational experiences outside a traditional classroom setting, you will apply what you have learned to gain knowledge, build lifelong friendships, engage with alumni and mentors, cultivate your personal growth and much more.

Your Hart School education takes you beyond the classroom and gives you the chance to experience learning through action. While the destinations and events change, every semester brings new opportunities to learn from experts - and by doing. Two of our frequent field experience trips are below:

  • Learn about the connections between the grape and the soil and vine in the Napa and Sonoma Wine and Culture course. You’ll meet winery owners and managers while learning about sustainability and tourism and how marketing strategies work nationally.
  • Attend the International Hotel, Motel and Restaurant Show in New York City. This is the worlds’ largest showcase and exchange of industry products, trends and developments, attracting every segment and facet of the industry.

And other recent hands-on experience opportunities included:

  • Hotel Madison & Shenandoah Valley Conference Center, working part-time in a variety of departments
  • PGA Tour BMW Championship, serving as hospitality venue captains
  • Torchy’s Tacos Operators Conference, working on the event management team
  • Le Gourmet Fundraising Events, assisting event coordinators
  • California Pizza Kitchen Operators Conference, supporting the event management team

Your experiential learning begins right on campus with the Hotel Madison, regarded as a premier destination for Virginia business and leisure travel. You can gain practical knowledge and a head start in the industry through shadowing employees, manager-in-training programs, internships, working events and research.

As a future hospitality leader, you’ll need to know how to gather and analyze data to help make the best possible decisions for your clients and company. Our Research Experience for Undergraduates program will help you learn the process of conducting independent research in the business disciplines. 

As an undergraduate research assistant, you’ll make valuable connections with JMU faculty as you collaborate on research topics of mutual interest, learning a wide range of research skills such as reviewing literature, developing surveys, collecting and cleaning data, and analyzing results. These experiences may also give you a competitive edge in applying for graduate school.

For many students, the time spent studying abroad is one of the most significant periods in their academic studies. Long afterward they continue to discover that the immersive experience of another culture pays dividends throughout their lives as they navigate new social and global career environments.

Through the Center for Global Engagement, you’ll be able to take advantage of specific HM international programs in places like Australia, Mexico and Italy. 

HM students can earn credits toward their JMU degree with both long-term (whole semester/12 weeks) and short-term (3-6 weeks) trips. Some programs may fulfill major requirements (or count as electives in their major) while others may fulfill JMU General Education requirements.

Required Hospitality Work Experience

Official curriculum requirements are listed in the JMU Undergraduate Catalog.

Graduates from the Hart School's Hospitality Management program are required to complete 1,000 hours of professional industry-related work experience which is completed in three “milestones” during the academic career. 

You will be actively working in the hospitality field in addition to completing specific coursework designed to help you become a well-rounded professional. HM 333 and HM 444 integrate knowledge and theory gained in the classroom with practical application and skills development in a hospitality setting. Choose an aspect of the industry that you are interested in learning more about and where you can see yourself working one day and seek out work experience in that area. Successful work experiences lead to a strong professional network and even full-time job opportunities.

  • HM 333 can be taken in the summer, as a six-week course; or in an academic semester, as a 15-week course. Course prerequisites are 600 hours of industry experience.
    • Minimum of 200 hours; all 200 hours must be completed when enrolled in HM 333.
  • HM 444 can be taken in the summer, as a six-week course; or in an academic semester, as a 15-week course. Course prerequisite is HM 333.
    • Minimum of 200 hours; all 200 hours must be completed when enrolled in HM 444.
  • Work experience organizations/sites must be pre-approved by Theresa Lind, HM Work Experience Coordinator. All hours must be within the hospitality industry (hotel, restaurant, resort, country club, special event company or other tourism-related industry). Work experience hours in retail are not considered to be within the hospitality industry, nor are lifeguard or nanny positions.

Students are responsible for researching and obtaining their own individual industry related work experiences.Though we do not act as an internship placement service, the Hart School faculty and staff have strong relationships with hospitality industry employers and professionals, and regularly leverage these relationships to create opportunities for students. In addition, our dedicated alumni base recruits our students for jobs and internships on a regular basis.  

The Hart School Professional Development & Employer Engagement Coordinator, Lauren Wholihan Gardner, spends much of her time cultivating relationships with industry employers and works to provide the following resources in order to make the internship/job search process as seamless as possible for students:

  • The Hart School Career & Internship Fair (offered each semester)
  • On-campus information sessions by top industry employers
  • Programming on how to search for jobs and internships; resume and cover letter reviews; interviewing best practices
  • Advising appointments are available so students can discuss questions about finding an internship; obtaining more industry experience, etc.
  • Internships, FT/PT jobs, and volunteer/experiential opportunities are posted on the Hart School Career Development Canvas page. Students can log on and search by keyword or can read a weekly summary that’s emailed out.
  • Handshake, JMU’s official career platform, is also a great tool used to assist in finding internship & job opportunities, researching companies and organizations, and ultimately applying to positions.

There are both practical and academic components to HM 333 and HM 444. While the majority of what you will be doing during this time is working to gain valuable experience, you will need to complete the following to obtain class credit:

  • Engage in weekly correspondence with your professor.
  • Complete a weekly journal of hours worked and weekly reflections on hospitality leadership topics.
  • Write papers including a critical analysis, assessment of effective leadership, and reflections on looking back and moving forward.
  • Complete a special mini-management project that is agreed upon by the employer and has "real world" benefit to the employer as well as the student.
  • Receive formal feedback from your faculty member and employer.

Natalie Beiro - HM alumna "The Hart School is truly a family. The support and encouragement I received from not only the faculty and staff but from my fellow students gave me the confidence to pursue my goals. These relationships still exist today, years after graduation, and push me towards both personal and professional success."

Natalie (Street) Beiro '12
Sales Manager, Mandarin Orientel Hotel, DC

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