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Hospitality students intern at the Domincan Republic

At a time of year when many students are either working a summer job, employed in a summer internship, taking a road trip or enjoying a relaxing vacation, one group of hospitality students at Georgia State University have been given the opportunity to do all of the above.

This summer, 11 students from Georgia State’s Hospitality Department are traveling to the Dominican Republic for a five-week internship at the luxurious Melia resort in Punta Cana.

The students will leave on or around June 20 and will stay for five weeks before returning for the fall semester.

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Josh Grotheer, External Awareness & Alumni Relations Coordinator for the Cecil B. Day School of Hospitality, said that Melia Resorts approached the hospitality group at Georgia State with the internship opportunity.

He did not have to seek it out.

“We’re excited about the opportunity for the students to apply what they’ve learned in Hotel and Resort management,” said Grotheer.

Melia Resorts is a world-class operation with 350 hotels in 35 countries, spanning four continents. According to Grotheer, Melia is not only an industry leader in resort accommodation and experience, but also in environmentalism and sustainability.

While in the Dominican Republic, students will stay on-resort and have food and lodging provided for them, as they are divided into teams to explore the various aspects and elements of running a successful and sustainable resort.

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From the front desk, to guest relations and even administration, students will get an encompassing experience of the day-to-day operation of the resort.

“I wanted to go learn about the sustainability efforts Melia is working on so I can come back to Georgia State and possibly encourage our campus to implement some of the same efforts,” marketing major Kaila Vazquez said. “[And] become a more sustainable campus.”

Students will also have the opportunity to learn and glean insight from Melia resort staff, whose, whose approach to sustainability involves recycling food, water and waste in new and innovative ways.

Particular emphasis, however, will be placed on the importance of how the resort property affects the outside community. According to Grotheer, this is the most unique facet of Melia’s approach to sustainability.

“I’m not too terribly worried,” Grotheer said, when asked if he was concerned about the language barrier. “We have a few bilingual students, but most of the staff at the resorts speaks proficient English

In preparation for this amazing opportunity, students are currently enrolled in a Hotel Operations course, learning the various nuances and dynamics of the industry, particularly when it comes the economic and ecologic impact of tourism on a given area.

This class is normally offered in a semester-long format, but a more streamlined and expedited version is being offered to students selected to the trip.

What normally takes one semester is now being done in six classes.

When asked to express her feelings pertaining to the trip in a single word, student Lilian Martinez said, “Excited.”

A few of these students are already seasoned travelers, as they traveled with a Hospitality group to London for the 2012 Olympics, while other students will be leaving the country for the very first time.