The Impact of Hospitality Industry-Wide Shutdowns on University Internship Programs


  • Polly College Drexel University
  • Dr. Bill Quain Stockton University
  • Dr. James Downey Lynn University
  • Tara Marsh Stockton University


The COVID-19 pandemic caused a critical disruption of Hospitality Education – especially for Internship courses.? Substantial industry shut-downs and health-related restrictions made it difficult for students to find positions in Summer 2020.? In one U.S. University, the faculty made critical decisions about its Internship Program, using both past experiences and newly-available qualitative data.? The result was a Virtual Internship course that still delivered the desired outcomes.? Fortunately, the faculty had a tradition of reacting to changes in the Internship climate, and more recently, one faculty member had developed a new tool, the Learning Interaction Report (LIR), that produced relevant data about students’ experiences within their Internships.? Using techniques such as checklist analysis and key word research, researchers identified key elements of the Internship experience, and replicated it with various pedagogical tools, such as a Simulation Exercise. While the intention of the faculty members was to simply overcome the temporary difficulties presented by the pandemic, the data from the LIRs revealed a significant, long-term problem: students were receiving inconsistent experiences in their Internships.? By combining ongoing curriculum reviews with?new analyses, the faculty created a Virtual Internship class for summer 2020.? However, tools such as the Simulation Exercise, that overcome the differences in students’ Internship experience, will remain in place. It is important to note that the researchers do not intend their findings and decisions to be a universal solution for Internship course revisions.  Rather, the actions taken were simply a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, by one university, for one course. 

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