During Camp Hyatt Career Day, some 25 fifth-graders from Greenbriar West visited the Hyatt Fair Lakes hotel on Friday to learn the workings of a hotel.
The students were split among the hotel's managers and employees: chefs, housekeepers, room service attendants, receptionists and reservation agents.
They did the actual work — students put toppings on pizza, they folded napkins, learned to make espresso and booked reservations over the phone.
"I think it was kind of more fun than I thought it would be because I thought we would be sitting the entire time," said fifth-grader Emily Sakowitz.
GENERAL MANAGER Terry Dunbar advised two students about the importance of making employees happy. Later he asked the students what they would say to their peers at a luncheon.
"We'll just tell them they did a good job, but that we did an even better job," said Stan Petrov, a fifth-grader.
Dunbar told Stan that employees did not care how one has done as a manager, but that it was important to tell the student-employees that they did a good job.
"And we got cookies," added Joe Nissen, another fifth-grader.
"And sometimes that's exactly how I feel too," Dunbar said.
Dunbar took Stan and Joe around the hotel, explaining and demonstrating his job along the way. He showed them a newly designed guest room, which will be used in a $4.5 million renovation.
"We got to do a lot more than I expected," said Jordan Nunez. "I thought we'd cook just one thing."
Many other students said they were happy with the hands-on training the hotel provided them.
"It was really fun," Minh Bui said. "We got to answer the phones and check people in and out." But, it was difficult "sometimes talking on the phone — one didn't know what they would say."
STUDENTS ALSO dined in the hotel's employee cafeteria. Mallory Shipe expected the kitchen would have been bigger and not so noisy, she said.
About 90 percent of Hyatt's 216 hotels invite fifth-graders to follow its employees one day a year, said Dede Rutherford, Hyatt Fair Lakes' director of human resources. Hyatt has run the program for 15 years.
The event introduces children to job opportunities within the travel and tourism industry. It also allows the hotels to maintain good relations with its neighboring communities, Rutherford said.