Student Katie Ciemniecki welcoming visitors to the Gasparilla Inn & Club.

Internship at Gasparilla Inn proves insightful for USFSM students

By: Rich Shopes

Posted: January 17, 2017

SARASOTA, Fla. (Jan. 17, 2017) Hospitality management student Katie Ciemniecki says her internship is turning into an adventure.

Ciemniecki and fellow student Elisabeth Tuden are enrolled in USF Sarasota-Manatee’s College of Hospitality and Tourism Leadership. As part of a management training initiative, the two received internships at the renowned Gasparilla Inn & Club this past fall.

While many students were enjoying time off after final exams, Ciemniecki and Tuden were busy learning the inner-workings of a luxury hotel.

Internship at Gasparilla Inn proves insightful for USFSM students

The Gasparilla Inn & Club has welcomed visitors since 1913.

The Gasparilla Inn & Club isn’t just any lodging. Among a handful of storied “Old Florida” resorts, the inn has welcomed famous visitors since 1913. Celebrities, presidents and tycoons such as J.P. Morgan and Henry duPont are among the Gaparilla’s guests.

The inn’s historic charm isn’t lost on Ciemniecki and Tuden, who consider the internship a rare treat. “It really has been an adventure,” said Ciemniecki, 20, who works the front desk. “Every day brings something new.”

Like many employees, Ciemniecki and Tuden live in housing provided by the resort and within walking distance of it. Such arrangements are not uncommon at high-end hotels where staff may be called in to help with last-minute arrangements. The two said they’re happy to oblige considering the surroundings and their experiences so far.

Ciemniecki said she’s absorbing all the resort has to offer. Moving through the various departments as part of the internship, she said she’s learned about different hotel operations, protocols and hospitality technologies. This has given her an expansive knowledge of the inn while also affording her a glimpse into a possible career path as well.

The hospitality student says she can easily imagine working long-term in the resort business, and possibly traveling to exotic destinations. “I’d really like to be in a management position,” she said.

Internship at Gasparilla Inn proves insightful for USFSM students

Student Elisabeth Tuden helps guests at the main dining room.

Tuden, meanwhile, came to the training initiative after already having worked in hospitality, including a five-year stint at a hotel front desk.

“I was actually a front-desk supervisor,” the 27-year-old said, adding that she hopes to broaden her knowledge of additional resort operations during her training.

For the moment, she’s working in food and beverage, a department she was unfamiliar with until her internship. Among other tasks, she’s shadowed supervisors, booked reservations and scheduled shift assignments.

“It’s been a great experience,” she said. “Everyone here has been very nice and accommodating, very helpful.”

Long term, she’s aiming for a management position or to work as a hospitality consultant, so she appreciates the opportunity to rotate through various departments. Like Ciemniecki, Tuden has agreed to extend her stay through June. When not working, the two enjoy the beach and visiting Boca Grande and Port Charlotte.

“I’ve gotten to meet so many people,” said Ciemniecki. “So many interesting people come to this hotel.”

For more about USFSM’s College of Hospitality & Tourism Leadership, visit http://usfsm.edu/chtl/.

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