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OHIO human resources class gains real world experience while helping Culinary Services recruit employees

An Ohio University class gained real world experience during the spring semester by assisting Culinary Services with recruiting new employees.

And now Culinary Services is moving forward with the initiatives the students brought to them, while also continuing to work with the class. 

The project began during the 2021-2022 academic year when Culinary Services was having trouble recruiting students for open positions. In most years, Culinary Services employs between 1,800 to 1,900 students. Due to the pandemic and other factors, though, Culinary Services only had around 900 student employees during the 2021-2022 academic year, explained Kent Scott, associate director of auxiliaries operations.

Shawnee Meek, assistant professor of instruction in the College of Business, reached out to Culinary Services to see if her Introduction to Human Resources course could be of assistance in recruiting new employees. The class, which had 32 students during the spring semester, is part of a human resources management certificate program that is open to all majors.

“I love creating experiential learning opportunities for students,” Meek said. Culinary Services was receptive to the idea and met with Meek and her students.  The members of the class then toured Culinary Services facilities, experienced orientation, and got to work.

“They were asked to consider different techniques with recruiting and to be creative” Meek said. 


The Human Resources class members are shown at the Central Food facility.
The students in the class toured the Ohio University Central Food Facility.

The students enjoyed learning about Culinary Services and were excited to take on the project.

“My favorite part about this experiential learning project was our ability to learn first-hand,” said student Liz Dziubek. “The skills and knowledge we gained outside of the traditional academic classroom setting was a fantastic way see HR in a realistic way.”

Scott explained that Culinary Services had tried numerous initiatives to recruit student employees previously, and he was impressed to see the ideas the human resources students came up with.

“With one of their ideas, they put together a lot of fliers and posted them in specific areas, such as apartment buildings, which was a really good tactic,” Scott said. The students in the class were also active on social media and talked to other students face-to-face about job opportunities with Culinary Services.

“We found out that one of the best methods they used was talking to friends and personally communicating the importance of the jobs and the people who work there,” Scott said. 

The class divided up into teams to see which team could recruit the most students and worked on the project throughout the semester.

And at the end of the semester, each team presented their methods, results, learnings, recommendations to the Culinary Services executive team.

“That was so insightful,” Scott said. “We will be using several of the proposals from their presentation this year and in the future.”

The Culinary Services team was so impressed by the presentation, in fact, that the meeting then evolved into a brainstorming session to discuss new proposals.

While the project provided numerous benefits for Culinary Services, it was also a meaningful learning experience for her students, Meek said.

“This experience provides students the opportunity to work with executives, ask meaningful questions, understand current human resources challenges, attempt to help solve the problem, and apply what they have been learning,” Meek said.


The members of the Human Resources class
The students in the Introduction to Human Resources class.

The students learned a great deal and were very positive about their work with Culinary Services.

“My favorite part of this project was being able to actually experience a part of HR,” said student Hannah Holbrook. “Not only could Culinary Services learn from our recruiting accomplishments and mistakes, but we can use them in our future careers.”

“My favorite part of this project is how I had the opportunity to implement skills that I've learned in class in real life through recruiting. My biggest takeaway is the importance of being able to communicate effectively and assist people in all aspects in the role as a recruiter,” said student Vanessa Carioti.

“I thought this project was a very interesting way to gain recruiting experience. It helped us become aware of what strategies work better than others and gave us good practice in this area,” said student Sydney Pritchard.

The class tracked its work and was able to show that at least 15 students began working with Culinary Services during the spring semester due to the recruiting efforts. More may have joined who were not verified, and it’s likely that many will join Culinary Services in the fall due to the efforts of the class in the spring semester.

In addition, Culinary Services will continue to use several of the initiatives and plans to work with the human resources class that Meek is leading once again this fall.

June 30, 2022
Staff reports