ATLANTA — Officials of Castell Project, Inc. — a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to accelerating the careers of women professionals in the hospitality industry — announced that during 2021, Castell@College will speak with some 1,800 to 2,000 hospitality students on the verge of launching their careers. Through this Castell Project initiative, female executives share real-life stories of opportunities, challenges and rewards of a hospitality career with the goal of strengthening students’ interest in the industry and its career opportunities.
During the fall of 2019 and early in 2020, Castell@College refined its approach and messages at a select number of schools. When scheduled live events for the spring of 2020 were cancelled due to COVID-19, the organization recognized that students would need extra support and re-assurance as they faced entering the industry during an economic downturn. A re-structured approach using technology led to invitations from 25 schools to speak with 900 students during the fall semester. Castell@College is scaling to reach double the number of schools and students in 2021.
“At first, we were devastated not to be talking with students face-to-face. However, switching to a virtual platform was a ‘silver- lining‘ that allowed us to scale the program much faster than we had
thought possible, says Fern Kanter, co-chair of Castell@College and a member of the Castell Project board.
During a Castell@College session, panelists fashion their career and life experiences into stories that capture the attention and imagination of students as opposed to providing advice in a lecture format. These stories describe the variety of roles available in the industry, the bumpy path of a successful career, how a strong career provides resources for family and personal life and most importantly given current conditions, tips for starting a career in uncertain times. More than 120 female hospitality executives have volunteered to participate in Castell@College panels.
“Castell@College showed me there as so many career paths open to me in the hospitality industry,” says Caroline Waters, student, School of Hospitality Business, Michigan State University. “Thanks to what I learned during this program, I’m more confident and excited to enter the hospitality industry and join the amazing women I had the opportunity to meet.”
“Thanks to three amazing volunteers who gave a tremendous amount of time and thought, the initiative has a solid foundation to grow and serve the hospitality industry,” says Peggy Berg, chair of Castell Project. “Fern Kanter, Lan Elliott and Heather Jacobs’ contribution to the future of hospitality is significant and much appreciated. Through Castell@College, a stronger, more informed pool of talent will be available as the industry re-emerges.”