The hospitality industry in New Mexico is on pace to grow by 7.9 percent over the next six years, adding a projected 7,102 jobs to the food services and accommodation sector by 2026, according to the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions.
The School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management at New Mexico State University is now better positioned to help meet the demands of the growing hospitality industry, thanks to a four-year, $400,000 investment from The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation.
HRTM – one of eight academic departments in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at NMSU – used funding from the investment to create the Marriott Hospitality Futures Center, a new on-campus center dedicated to fostering hospitality career development and promoting the importance of hospitality education.
The investment from the Marriott Foundation was made to the NMSU Foundation in 2019 to support HRTM.
“We are proud to work with the Marriott Foundation to make a positive difference in the education of our students as they pursue their hospitality studies and engage with industry professionals,” said Leslie Cervantes, interim vice president for University Advancement.
The Marriott Hospitality Futures Center, which opened to students in January, also will serve as a central hub for community outreach, connecting students to industry professionals and increasing the overall visibility of HRTM, which offers the only bachelor’s program in hospitality management in New Mexico.
The center’s key initiatives include refining existing recruitment, outreach and professional development programs, as well as creating career workshops targeted toward high school students, teachers, guidance counselors and community college students. HRTM program coordinator Andrea Arrigucci and a grant-funded assistant are spearheading the center’s efforts.
Last fall, HRTM renovated office spaces in Gerald Thomas Hall to house the center, creating a designated area for students to research work and careers, hold meetings, receive career counseling, and take part in interviews with industry representatives for internships and employment. One of the spaces has two computers for students.
“Our students now have the resources they need for their job searches, their classes and group projects right here in the HRTM department,” HRTM Director Jean Hertzman said. “We want the Marriott Hospitality Futures Center to be a key place for students to connect to the information they’ll need to find jobs and opportunities.”
As more resources are developed, Hertzman said, they will become available on the center’s website, https://aces.nmsu.edu/mhfc/index.html.
In addition to being a space for one-on-one meetings with industry representatives, the center also doubles as an area for HRTM students to study.
“I’m using it pretty much every day just to catch up on homework and reading, and also communicate with my professors about questions that I have,” HRTM senior Amber Ogaz said. “I like that this space is tailored for HRTM. It’s literally ours, which is awesome.”
College of ACES Dean Rolando Flores commended HRTM’s ongoing efforts to connect students to industry professionals through the Marriott Hospitality Futures Center.
“This is a prime example of what we are trying to achieve in all our ACES programs by having a strong connection with the appropriate industry in each department,” Flores said. “Our students need to have contact with industry representatives and become familiar with the opportunities that a close relation with the industry brings to ACES students, internships and jobs.”
Arrigucci will host the center’s inaugural career workshop Tuesday, Feb. 11. The workshop will cover interview and résumé readiness, Arrigucci said, and students who attend can expect to learn about the key principles of résumé building, interview skills and dressing professionally. The goal is to prepare students for the annual Hospitality Career Fair, set for Feb. 26-28.
“We will host six to eight workshops throughout the year on a variety of different topics,” she said. “For example, we’ll have one that focuses on entrepreneurship in conjunction with NMSU’s Arrowhead Center, and we’ll have another one that centers on sustainability.”
For more information about the center and future workshops, contact Arrigucci at email@example.com or 575-646-5566.