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University of Delaware - Alfred Lerner College of Business & Economics

By Dena Hillison March 6, 2020

For students looking to develop skills in global leadership development, the Marriott International Voyage Programs offers the opportunity to expand their career horizons working in roles across Marriott’s hotel brands. Each year, several students from the University of Delaware’s Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics are recruited for this prestigious program.

“The Voyage Program provides an excellent foundation towards a career in a leading global hospitality company of the world,” said Srikanth Beldona, professor of hospitality business management and chair of UD’s hospitality business management department. “Our students are trained and equipped with skills building on our experiential and analytical curricula, which makes them ideal candidates for this program. We are proud of our long-standing achievement of graduating students who have been recruited over the years in this ever-evolving program.”

Four Blue Hens who have been accepted into the Marriott Voyage Program participated in question-and-answer interviews where they shared what they are most looking forward to in the program, how their time at the Lerner College prepared them for this next step and more.

Samantha Epstein, UD Class of 2019 hospitality business management major.

Q: How does it feel to be accepted to the Marriott Voyage program?

Epstein: I am extremely excited to have been offered a spot in Marriott’s Voyage program. Voyage is a competitive program that allows post-graduate students to focus on a career interest for a year at one of Marriott’s extensive brands. I feel fortunate to be given this opportunity to grow in a company and learn the management skills to advance in my career with event planning.

Q: How did your time at the Lerner College and HBM Department help you to achieve this goal?

Epstein: Going through the Lodging Module in my hospitality major at the Courtyard by Marriott located on campus prepared me with formal and cross boarding training that showed me all aspects of what it takes to work in a hotel. This experience originally sparked my interest in working for Marriott International. The skills that I learned in my classes at Lerner College have given me confidence when public speaking, which helped greatly during the interview process.

Q: What are your plans for the future and what do you hope to gain from this program?

Epstein: I will complete the Voyage program at the Marriott Marquis in Washington, D.C. with my interest placement of Event Operations. The hotel is connected to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center which provides great opportunities to advance my career in events. I plan to gain all of the skills I need to become a successful manager after this program and progress my career with Marriott.

Jillian Honaker, UD Class of 2019 hospitality business management major.

Q: How does it feel to be accepted to the Marriott Voyage program?

Honaker: It feels like all my years of hard work both inside and outside the classroom are about to pay off. I can’t wait to start my Voyage Program applying what I’ve learned at UD, and continue learning about the industry with Marriott.

Q: How did your time at the Lerner College and HBM Department help you to achieve this goal?

Honaker: My time at Lerner College and the HBM department has been a valuable and rewarding experience. Specifically my hands-on learning during the Vita Nova restaurant practicum and Courtyard Marriott lodging practicum. I owe a lot of my success to the faculty I’ve had the pleasure of working who have not only been teachers but also mentors.

Q: What are your plans for the future and what do you hope to gain from this program?

Honaker: I expect this program to be the start of a long journey with Marriott. I am excited to see what opportunities I find after the program. Marriott International has countless opportunities in many aspects of the hospitality industry which is ideal for a UD Lerner student because of how well-rounded the program makes us for graduation.

Alanna Weiss, UD Class of 2020 hospitality business management major with a minor in entrepreneurial studies and a certificate in new product development.

Q: How does it feel to be accepted to the Marriott Voyage program?

Weiss: Having an offer from the Marriott Voyager program has been both exciting and relieving. In the middle of the fall 2019 semester, I had the ability to start planning my post graduate career which includes moving to Boston, Massachusetts and working in the events department of the Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel. Building connections has always been a goal of mine. Now, I get to facilitate welcoming environments and assist people on extremely important days such as their weddings, celebrations, high-stress company conferences and more.

Q: How did your time at the Lerner College and HBM Department help you to achieve this goal?

Weiss: Reaching this goal was made possible because of many resources from Lerner College and the Hospitality Business Management Department. Freshman year, I attended a Hospitality Career Fair outside of my normal class schedule. At the career fair, I met a recruiter from Starwood Hotels that offered me an externship working for sales and events at the St. Regis San Francisco over spring break. This previous experience made it possible to apply for Marriott internships during freshman year after the Marriott and Starwood merger. The networking skills I learned through Lerner events played a huge role in the entire process as well. In addition to networking, professors and Jill Gugino Pante from career services always pushed us to have updated resumes and LinkedIn pages. Approaching recruiters with prepared documents and information was the first step to a successful conversation.

Q: What are your plans for the future and what do you hope to gain from this program?

Weiss: In the future, I plan to work in several different industries ranging from higher education to outer space travel. There are so many fascinating elements of this world to explore. My goal is to continue learning and helping craft a brighter future. In the voyager role, I hope to learn exceptional project management skills and ways to problem solve more efficiently. I am also looking forward to working on a dedicated team of driven professionals. Overall, Marriott has an excellent training program and I am extremely grateful to be a part of it.

Jason Wolfthal, UD Class of 2020, hotel restaurant and institutional management major. 

Q: How does it feel to be accepted to the Marriott Voyage program?

Wolfthal: It is such a privilege to have been accepted into the program. This is something I have worked very hard to achieve and I’m so excited to have this opportunity. I have worked towards this for so long, it’s very gratifying to have this weight lifted off my shoulders.

Q: How did your time at the Lerner College and HBM Department help you to achieve this goal?

Wolfthal: I think the curriculum was the biggest factor in my success. My professors challenged me to transfer knowledge from the classroom to hands on, real world situations and that’s where I learned the most. Without that kind of foundation, I would feel much more lost.

Q: What are your plans for the future and what do you hope to gain from this program?

Wolfthal: I am very thankful to have my foot in the door with such a great company like Marriott. With this program, I hope to further reinforce my foundation as a professional which hopefully benefit me in my future endeavors. I do not plan for anything specific, but I hope to be in a position where I can confidently choose to follow a path I desire.