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Students Who Soar: Hospitality Major Thrives in Real-World Hotel Practicum

Students Who Soar: Hospitality Major Thrives in Real-World Hotel Practicum

Posted: December 8, 2017

Since he was a child, Buffalo State senior Matt Jendrasik has pictured himself working as a hotel manager.

“Neither of my parents went to college,” he said. “My father is a machine operator and welder. He worked hard in his industry, and I wanted to take that drive and do something different. I pictured myself wearing a suit and being part of a people business, not only dealing with guests but also employees.”

Now, poised to graduate from Buffalo State’s hospitality administration program in May 2018, Jendrasik is close to achieving his goal.

“A common misconception about the hospitality industry is that it’s just about being nice to people and treating everyone with a smile,” said the young man who exudes a poise and maturity that belies his 22 years. “There is a business behind what we do. And it’s learning the business end of hospitality that I’ve gotten from Buffalo State.”

Following graduation from John F. Kennedy High School, Jendrasik took hotel management courses at Erie Community College and worked as a disc jockey at a local nightclub, where he was also given the opportunity to remodel the bar and operate it.

“I met a couple of friends at the club, and we thought about starting our own venture,” he said. “Then we stepped back and realized we needed more education first. That’s when I looked into Buffalo State. I toured the campus, saw what the Hospitality and Tourism Department offers, and thought it was the right fit.”

Two semesters later, he said that’s definitely been the case. Along with taking courses such as Tourism Management and Advanced Human Resource Management in Hospitality, Jendrasik has had the unique opportunity of working in an actual hotel. He is among 10 students enrolled in the brand-new Industry Experience course, a two-semester practicum at Hotel Henry Urban Resort and Conference Center, which opened in May 2017 in the iconic Richardson Olmsted Complex across the street from campus. 

Through lecturer Rebecca Tate’s practicum course, Jendrasik has learned about hotel marketing and sales, worked directly with guests in the 88-bed hotel, handled special events, and served meals in the hotel’s restaurant, 100 Acres. 

“This has been my favorite class,” Jendrasik said. “We spend three to four weeks on each of the four departments that make up hotel management. Next semester, I get to focus on my favorite area—marketing.”

Outside of class, Jendrasik has gotten involved with the local chapter of the national honors society of hospitality students, Eta Sigma Delta, and now serves as its vice president.

“We just got back from the Eta Sigma Delta breakfast and HX: Hotel Experience Trade Show in New York City,” he said. “It was awesome to see hospitality students from all over the country, matching what they’re doing with what I’ve done at Buffalo State.” 

Jendrasik is considering pursuing a master’s degree in marketing and business administration after graduation.

“I’d like to work in the industry for a few years before venturing off and starting my own company,” he said. “With everything happening in Buffalo, including development at Canalside and the Outer Harbor, there are a lot of opportunities in the hospitality industry.”

In general, he said job prospects for new hospitality graduates are better than ever.

“Especially in Buffalo, there are new hotels being constructed each year,” he said, “and tourism has increased each year over the past five to 10 years.”

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