Ohio State students on the football field celebrating the Big Dish event

Big Dish Planning Committee members Jose Snead (left), Montgomery Parker, Elysia Franke, Lauren Petersen, Hannah Pierce and Sabrina Kurc.

May 6-10 is In-Demand Jobs Week, an annual statewide celebration of the jobs, industries and skills that are in demand in Ohio. Ohio State News highlights students as they transition from graduation into the workforce.

Students at The Ohio State University honed skills in leadership, communication, organization and many other areas essential to success by organizing The Big Dish at Ohio Stadium in April. The annual signature event presented by the College of Education and Human Ecology’s Hospitality Management Program is a collaboration between graduating seniors and industry partners.

This year’s event was held in the Netjets Landing event space, an appropriate location because Netjets supports the Hospitality Management Program.

Hospitality Management Students
EHE Dean Don Pope-Davis (center, dark blue jacket) poses with Cameron Mitchell (center, light blue jacket), Cameron Mitchell Restaurants founder and CEO, and Hospitality Management graduating seniors.

Student leaders speak to program’s opportunities

Students organize every aspect of the event, which attracts about 200 people annually to the stadium’s Huntington Club. The students work with vendors to present an upscale reception with a variety of food, beverages and entertainment. This year, the menu included shrimp hors d’oeuvres, fajitas with chicken, steak and vegetarian options, and a selection of gourmet desserts  ̶  cake, cookies and pudding.

The Big Dish planning committee consisted of students in the Hospitality Management Program’s event-planning class. Students researched how to plan major events and put what they learned into practice, calling on a set of skills that Clinical Assistant Professor Annemarie Turpin outlined. The skills included collaboration and trust, time management and adaptability, and technical know-how such as marketing and graphic design.

“I’m incredibly impressed with all of them because they showed all of these skills at a very high level,” said Turpin, who is also director of the college’s Hospitality Management Advisory Board. “All of the skills are going to benefit them personally and professionally.”

The planning committee included graduating seniors Sabrina Kurc, Elysia Franke, Lauren Petersen, Hannah Pierce and José Snead. Each of the students said working together to organize the event helped them build skills they can use in the workplace.

“No matter where you go within hospitality or any career in general, you’re going to have to work with people and you’re going to need to know how to effectively do that because every group has a different dynamic,” said Kurc, a hospitality management major. “Working on this committee, specifically, those are … transferable skills. … No matter what you’re going into [professionally], it’s going to help you with knowing how to work with a team.”

Committee members honed their communication skills by identifying at the outset which roles would best suit them, said Pierce, a hospitality management major.

“It was a conversation amongst all of us  ̶  what do you feel your strengths and weaknesses are? Where do you feel that you could be placed to succeed and why?” she said. “We all had that transparent conversation, and that helped us see … what best efforts we can bring to this team and how we can help each other be successful.”

Snead said working alongside his classmates in the planning process and serving as the ceremony’s emcee developed his decision-making, problem-solving and prioritization skills.

“I’ve had many roles, internships and different jobs … working on different committees,” he said. “The Big Dish was another steppingstone to help push me towards being more confident in myself and my abilities.”

Franke, a marketing major, said supervising student volunteers and working with food and beverage vendors prepared her for a job at a catering company that she’ll start after graduation.

“It’s been kind of cool to see how to place people in roles,” she said. “That’s what I’ll be doing in my everyday life after I graduate.”

Ohio State EHE Hospitality Management students at The Big Dish event
Staff from Renaissance Columbus, a supporting partner of the Hospitality Management Program, attended The Big Dish.

Cameron Mitchell Restaurants pledges support to renovate Campbell Hall, home to the Hospitality Program

Cameron Mitchell Restaurants founder and CEO Cameron Mitchell was among industry partners who joined the Ohio State community at The Big Dish. During the event, the program announced a $1 million pledge from Cameron Mitchell Restaurants for the renovation of Campbell Hall on the Columbus campus. EHE Dean Don Pope-Davis said the pledge is the largest the college has received to date for Campbell Hall.

Mitchell said the pledge is intended to support Ohio State’s education and workforce development programs.

“We have a shared commitment to foster the next generation of leaders in hospitality,” Mitchell said. “Our pledge adds to other gifts CMR has made over the years and symbolizes our continued partnership and mutual dedication to excellence in hospitality education.”

Participating in The Big Dish gave students invaluable experience that will give them a head start in their careers, said Petersen, a hospitality management major.

“Being on the steering committee and seeing this event come to life, it really affirms why I love this program and this industry. It’s really cool to be a part of something for 15 weeks or so and then see it come to life and see all the hard work that we put in and the volunteers put in,” she said.

“It reaffirmed that I’m in the right place. And that was really cool to see it, starting as a volunteer and then as a senior and being part of the planning committee. Seeing that full circle, that was really special.”

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