An international internship to remember
After simply stating "I want to do an internship overseas," Jonathan Zedonek, University of West Florida Hospitality, Recreation and Resort Management major, was pointed in the right direction by his professors, and before he knew it, he was on a plane to Seoul, South Korea.
After simply stating “I want to do an internship overseas,” Jonathan Zedonek, University of West Florida Hospitality, Recreation and Resort Management major, was pointed in the right direction by his professors, and before he knew it, he was on a plane to Seoul, South Korea.
Zedonek was one of 25 students nationwide selected for an internship training program with the Department of the Navy: Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) Division. He left for South Korea in May and participated in the program for 14 weeks, learning first-hand the ins and outs of club management.
“I have been out of the country before, but this was different,” said Zedonek. “In my opinion, nothing compares to being completely immersed in an entirely new culture. I went there knowing nothing; now I have such a huge respect for all Asian cultures – no book or TV show can explain what life is like. You have to live it.”
While in South Korea, Zedonek interned as a food and beverage manager. He had the opportunity to shadow the Navy MWR director for Korea and the club manager while he served as floor manager during the day. Zedonek was involved in all aspects of the job, including budgeting and event and menu planning. He also managed more than 15 employees, only 10 of which spoke English.
“This internship experience gave me a chance to grow personally and professionally,” said Zedonek. “I was living, shopping, eating and talking to a whole new type of people, all with different rules and values about things than the West. Everyone I met had such a good heart and took care of me as if I had been there for years.”
With a passion for hospitality that was sparked at 16, Zedonek has pursued several hands-on opportunities to learn more about the industry. From mentors to educational seminars, he is grateful for the academic adventures he has had the opportunity to pursue at UWF.
“The program at UWF is different because it makes someone a well-rounded, exposed manager to hospitality,” said Zedonek. “The program covers more than just hotels, restaurants and catering. It teaches students the range of hospitality careers available from military work to recreation.”
Zedonek is currently the president of the Club Managers Association of America Student Chapter at UWF, a devoted eagle scout who finds time to help the local Boy Scout Troop on Nine Mile Rd. and a volunteer for his church creating brown bags for those in need. He hopes to become a general manager and someday open his own jazz bar.
“Everyone has something that brings them joy,” said Zedonek. “My joy is serving others and knowing that if someone comes to my establishment, I have a relationship with that person and can affect their day for an hour for lunch or a week on a backpacking trip.”
Learn more about UWF’s Hospitality, Recreation and Resort Management program at uwf.edu/hrrm.
By Megan Tyson, University Marketing Communications