Hayda and Chris Kandziora, senior vice president of sales and marketing at the Little Nell’s sister property Ojai Valley Inn in Ojai, Calif., also return to the career conference because they are alumni of the HRTM program, Hayda from 1980 and Kandziora from 1999.
They talked with Barnes about the importance of state funding for the university’s planned renovation of Heritage Hall, where the HRTM program and School of Hospitality Leadership — ranked one of the best in the world — are based.
The program helps provide skilled, management-track graduates for Wisconsin’s $14 billion a year tourism industry.
Barnes agreed. “It’s important that we fund our university system and technical college system. If they’re underfunded, we won’t be able to fill these workforce needs,” Barnes said.
Barnes spoke with two plastics engineering students who were in the lab, one of them a senior from New Jersey who chose UW-Stout because of the nationally recognized program. The student explained that he has already accepted a full-time job, upon graduation in May, with the company at which he interned.
It’s a common scenario among UW-Stout graduates — a co-op or internship experience found through the career conference leads to beginning a career with the same company, Frank told Barnes.
Frank said one of UW-Stout’s goals is to produce highly skilled or “triple threat” graduates, who have a degree, an applied or experiential learning experience such as an internship, and a professional credential, such as an industry certification.
The WMC survey also showed that 44% of state businesses can’t find qualified workers. All of UW-Stout’s undergraduate and 20 Graduate School programs have an experiential learning component.
Plastics Professor Wei Zheng told Barnes that “we teach a lot of hands-on skills” in the engineering program, and students leave with an average starting salary of $66,000.
“They come to Stout, get into this program, and they get a job — and a good one,” Frank said.
Part of UW-Stout’s FOCUS2030 strategic plan is to provide “integrated learning experiences that engage students in envisioning new possibilities, achieving their goals, and excelling in our global and diverse society.”