The United States J-1 Program in Front Office or Food & Beverage is a training and cultural exchange program by the U.S. Department of State, which gives students and recent graduates from around the world the opportunity to come to the U.S. and share their culture and ideas with Americans while receiving in-depth Hospitality training in the best hotels and resorts throughout the United States for up to 12 months.
Daxton Hotel in Birmingham is a leading Michigan Hospitality brand engaging with the J1 program, and after just two years, both hotel and students are reaping great benefits.
For student participants, the program offers 12 months of extensive hands-on training within a U.S. luxury hotel environment in all different capacities to help them secure jobs once they have completed the program and returned to their home countries. It also provides exposure to the American hospitality industry.
“Hospitality customs can be quite different depending on the country, so the opportunity to receive this applied and intensive training around American ways is very valuable in developing well-rounded professionals,” said Autumn Griffith, hotel manager.
Conversely, the program brings different perspectives and learnings to the Daxton team.
Our staff works alongside these students who are deep into their hospitality education paths and who come to us with different viewpoints and approaches, Griffith says. This exposes our team to different practices which are very valuable.
Participants explore different roles in various departments at Daxton Hotel on a rotational basis, giving them a holistic vantage point, and helping them to discover where their true passions lie.
Beyond the exchange of ideas and the daily work, Daxton Hotel’s team works to ensure all participants have a broad and balanced experience and are taken care of. From personally picking each one of the participants up at the airport to helping them find local lodging, to helping them pick out appropriate clothing for Michigan’s four seasons, the participants receive assistance all along the way.
The hotel also hosts “International Cuisine Day,” dedicated to the cuisine of one of the countries from which the participants’ hail. Program participants work in tandem with the hotel’s culinary team to make sure the cuisine and décor from their home country are properly represented, some even sharing family recipes and having décor shipped in from their home.
“This is another example of cross-learning,” said Griffith. “Our chefs have learned new cooking techniques and different food customs from participants. They have served meals from Turkey, Thailand, India, Philippines and beyond.”
Finally, cultural excursions for J-1 Program participants have included everything from pumpkin carving, to attending a Detroit Tigers baseball game, to bowling. Additionally, Daxton associates coordinated a “Friendsgiving” meal for the students to experience the holiday together.
At Daxton Hotel, J-1 students are paid and treated like the rest of the hotel associates, even being considered in the running for the hotel’s “Associate of the Month” award. They are truly ingratiated into the hotel team and organization.
When it comes to the future, Griffith hopes to continue to secure diverse representation from hospitality students across the globe, stating, “I’d like to expand and host participants from Africa and Europe and South America.”
In closing, Griffith says, “Our edict and mission is to take care of people and it’s uniquely rewarding to be able to provide our team and guests exposure to the insights of the J1 participants while at the same time, providing the participants a wonderful stepping-stone into their careers.”
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