Not all summer jobs are created equal and few are as rewarding. The IHG® Army Hotels Teen Academy is a summer work and internship program where children of hotel employees can learn and perform various hospitality jobs. Founded by IHG® Regional Director of Operations Teresa Colatarci, the program is a great opportunity to “groom possible future leaders and kids that don’t necessarily have the means or desire to go to college right away.”
Since launching in the summer of 2016 on Joint Base San Antonio, the Teen Academy has expanded to include all IHG Army Hotels who wish to participate, providing teens across the country with an incredible opportunity. Not only do they get paid, but participants get real hospitality experience and skills, develop a strong work ethic, and an appreciation of the hard work of their parents and other relatives. The teens are paired with seasoned hotel employees to be trained on various hospitality occupations, such as housekeepers, laundry assistants, and breakfast attendants. In addition, at the end of the summer the teens receive a completion certificate, and some are even invited to participate again the following summer.
But the program isn’t just about what the teens gain; in the spirit of IHG Army Hotels’ commitment to True Hospitality, participants also get involved in performing one or more community service projects to benefit the posts’ communities. This year, the participating hotels selected Tunnel to Towers as their main philanthropy, the mission of which is to honor the sacrifice of firefighter Stephen Siller who laid down his life to save others on September 11, 2001. They also honor our military and first responders who continue to make the supreme sacrifice of life and limb for our country. For more information, visit the Tunnel to Towers website.
This year was a success, with 18 hotels and 112 teens participating in the program, and fundraisers included bake sales, car washes, and even bacon wrapped Sonoran hot dogs. Some locations invited notable guests to speak to the teens during the program. At JBSA, Colonel Lisa Carrington Firmin, USAF, Retired, spoke to them about her leadership journey and provided valuable advice and inspiration. Furthermore, as the program grows and becomes more established, it is gathering attention from people outside of the IHG family as well. Based on interest from senior leaders within the posts, this year there was a new component added at two installations as a pilot program: dependents of post senior leadership were able to participate as well, which garnered rave reviews.
The Teen Academy program is a part of the greater IHG Academy, which provides local people with skills development and employment opportunities in one of the world’s largest hotel companies. A core pillar of their Corporate Responsibility strategy, the IHG Academy improves employability and creates job opportunities, building sustainable communities around IHG® hotels worldwide and in the industry at large. Though it is global, each program is united by three common pillars: they operate in partnership with local community organizations and education providers, include a work experience placement - giving participants skills and real experience of working in a hotel - and include performance feedback and a recruitment discussion with the aim of giving participants an opportunity to gain real experience and potential job placement in an IHG® hotel.
For more information on IHG’s work outreach programs, visit IHGAcademy.com.