Hi everyone! My name is Sanju Mohan and I am a senior majoring in Management & Business and Economics. This summer I interned at The Inn at Saratoga, the oldest hotel in Saratoga Springs celebrating its 185thyear in operation. Hospitality has always been a passion of mine but I had never had a practical opportunity to explore this interest until this summer. During the Spring of 2018, the Inn was a client of Professor Burke’s Skidmore Saratoga Consulting Partnership (SSCP) class. Student consultants spent a semester surveying guests and hotel staff, researching competitors and analyzing the cost benefit of certain functions of the hotel to bring a better understanding of where things could be improved. At the end of the semester after recommendations were given, the next logical step was to implement recommendations that were feasible with the Inn’s current financial standing. This is where I came in, it was an opportunity for me to kill two birds with one stone; practically explore both my interests in consulting and hospitality. My internship tenure at The Inn at Saratoga was structured on rotational basis, allowing me to amass experience across multiple departments such as the front desk, housekeeping, sales, and food and beverage. In addition to the rotational internship I shadowed the owner and general manager in strategizing, problem solving and implementing the recommendations given by the SSCP student consultants.
The busiest time of the year for the Inn is during track season, so I was lucky to have interned for them during this time. The room rates almost tripled, monthly occupancy rates averaged northwards of 88% and there was always some event going on at the Inn. I started off my internship at the Front Desk; made and amended reservations and assisted guests as they checked in and checked out. I had never realized what an integral part the Front Desk played as it is the only department that runs 24/7. It serves as not only the nucleus for guests, but also for all other departments in the hotel. Assistants at the Front Desk are the first line of defense at the hotel. Everyday unique problems found their way to the Front Desk which forced us to maintain a hospitable temperament while troubleshooting to solve client issues.
Subsequently, I worked with the Housekeeping department. I assisted in turning over rooms and maintaining common spaces. Importance is not only given to how well one cleans the room but also how fast it’s done. One of the biggest issues that the Inn faced was the high turnover rate in the Housekeeping department. Using the recommendations rendered by the student consultants we got new equipment and initiated an incentive program to bring stability to the department.
During my internship, I also spent a lot of time in the food and beverage department. I helped with meal services, revision of menus and assisted in the planning and execution of events at the Inn. We did events that ranged from baby showers and weddings to salon talks and music jam sessions. Guest feedback was essential in us improving the services we provided.
One thing in particular that drew me to this internship was that all leadership positions at the Inn were held by women, something that I have found to be rare in the hospitality industry. A report from the nonprofit Castell Project and the American Hospitality & Lodging Association’s Women in Lodging forum revealed that women in 2016 held just 5% of CEO positions at U.S. hotel companies, the same as in 2012. At the same time, the study revealed that women comprised 9% of U.S. hotel company presidents in 2016, up from just 8% in 2012. To have worked in a completely women-run organization affirmed my ambition and inspired me to continue with the passion that I have for this industry and has given me motivation to continue breaking barriers.
I would highly recommend students seeking internships to start the process early and not hesitate in applying for internships and funding awards. Building a network with alumni and professors can really help get you where you want to go. This practical and enlightening experience would not have been possible without the Skidmore Experience Fund. I am grateful to all the donors whose generosity has opened doors for us and finally, thank you Skidmore!