Chris Byrne '10
Growing up in the rural Northeast Kingdom town of Danville, Vt., a small ski resort called Burke Mountain loomed large for Chris Byrne. He started skiing at the local haunt when he was just two years-old, and in high school took a job in ticket sales.
“I loved every second that I was there,” he says. “There was something about it that was just so much fun, getting to work where you play. I knew this was the career path I wanted to take.”
He soon discovered GMC’s Resort & Hospitality Management Program, spoke to Prof. Frank Pauze, and quickly realized this was where he wanted to be.
Now, he’s got one year left until he graduates from the three-year program with a bachelor of science degree in resort & hospitality management. He’s taken classes in fields including marketing, human resources and law – all of which have been rewarding – but he says what stands out most is the hands-on experience he has gained thanks to the close relationship GMC has with Killington Resort. Students work in paid positions at the resort each year, take classes on-site and have Killington staffers as instructors. In addition to the education coordinator, Killington’s general manager, human resources manager and director of retail sales have all visited classes and made themselves available to students, Chris says.
“There’s always someone you can go to,” he says. “You meet a lot of people willing to help you out.”
For the program’s co-op term from December to March, students aren’t handed any plum appointments: They polish their resumes, apply for jobs and go through the interview process. Chris has worked as a front desk agent and as a housekeeping team leader – a position that tested his leadership and team building skills.
“I got a really good sense of what the lodging industry is like,” he says. “The best experience was learning what happens onstage and behind the scenes.”
Chris also works with a student marketing team tasked with updating the RHM website and creating and distributing brochures about the program. Eventually, he would like to work in management for a resort or hotel. For him, he says the prime motivator is customer service: He likes to help people have a good experience.
“It definitely takes a lot of patience,” he says. “But personally knowing that you’ve put your best foot forward, that you’ve gone above and beyond, is rewarding.”