HILTON COLLEGE STUDENTS GAIN EXPERIENCE AT CULLEN PERFORMANCE HALL


Conrad Hilton College students are getting real world experience and valuable training through a partnership between the college and Cullen Performance Hall (CPH). The partnership began this year to create venue training and volunteer opportunities for two Hotel and Restaurant Management (HRM) courses that will also give the participants an edge in their future careers.

Lecturer Anthony Caterina teaches both the Facilities Management and Entertainment and Venue Management courses at the Hilton College. He was looking for opportunities for his students to get hands-on work in an actual facility and had approached several areas including UH’s athletics and theatre departments as well as the Hobby Center in downtown Houston. When Tina Newhauser became the Theater Manager at Cullen Performance Hall, the two worked together to establish two programs for Hilton students in the nearby entertainment venue.

The first program included a class held at CPH where students learned about the venue itself and its policies and procedures from CPH staff followed by a presentation on evacuation and fire awareness training from UH’s Fire Marshal Joe Tremont. Then, students were given a list of upcoming events where they could volunteer to usher and work alongside professionals in the entertainment industry.

“Many of our students were impressed with the discussion. I hope to be able to provide this presentation each year,” Caterina said. “I want students to know as they go into the hospitality management they can reach out to a local fire department for help with such programs for their staff. I explain to our students that the safety of their staff and customers is their number one priority as they go forward in the industry. This presentation makes them aware of how quickly fire can spread and why fire safety codes are important.”

The second program for the upper-level Entertainment and Venue Management course involves crowd management training. First, the students must complete an online program provided by the International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM). Then, they receive training within a facility, in this case CPH, where they discover key terminology, fire and life safety codes as well as audience types and their behavior patterns. Once completed, the students receive a certificate that designates them as a “Certified Trained Crowd Manager,” a valuable inclusion on their resume that could give them a boost during their job search.

“I find that offering the UH students firsthand real life working experiences opens their eyes to what it actually takes to manage a public facility. Being able to quickly and safely solve problems and emergency situations only comes through real life work experiences,” Newhauser said.

Caterina said along with his students getting real world experience with customers, he hopes it will also open their eyes to other opportunities on campus, performances they may not have otherwise seen, and will also teach them to look outside the box when they are searching for jobs in the service industry. He said he hopes these experiences will also give them a connection to the campus to make them better alumni.

“I want to say how grateful I am to CPH and the athletics department for giving our students the opportunity, and if there are other programs out there looking to help, try reaching out to colleagues on campus,” Caterina said. “When I got here, I had no contacts with the athletic department and one with the theatre department. I picked up the phone, I sent out an email and found opportunities for our students to get experience and help the university. This is what it is all about.”

For more information on the Cullen Performance Hall, visit www.uh.edu/cph. For more information on the Conrad Hilton College, visit www.hrm.uh.edu.