The diploma ink was barely dry before friends Raed Alsulami and Sean Himalstein entered the work world.
Less than a month after graduating from the University of South Alabama in December 2016, Alsulami, a Saudi Arabia native, was in Jeddah, interviewing with one of the world’s top luxury hotels. Meanwhile, Florida native Himalstein was looking for a similar job with the same chain in the Sunshine State.
The young men share the distinction of being South’s first bachelor of science graduates in hospitality and tourism management, one of the University’s hottest new programs. Launched in 2014, some 100 students are majoring in the field. Featuring hands-on internships inside the industry, as well as focusing on numerous aspects of management and hospitality as well as its importance to the community, Alsulami and Himalstein learned directly from leaders in their chosen field and developed personal relationships.
Alsulami’s internship was with the Grand Hotel Marriott Resort, Golf Club & Spa at Point Clear.
“Because of that internship, I learned so much, and now I know exactly how everything is supposed to go,” he said. His career goal is to become an established event coordinator in the Middle East.
Himalstein, who worked and interned at the Bonefish Grill in west Mobile, said the program taught him “how to be a really successful leader.” Himalstein plans to pursue corporate food and beverage management in south Florida.
“Two years ago, I was managing a restaurant in Tallahassee, Fla., and I knew I had the skills to be in a leadership position, but after going through the program, having been mentored by all these professors and community leaders, I see the bigger picture of the entire industry around me," he said.
Both Alsulami and Himalstein began South with intended majors in other fields, but the career prospects for hospitality and tourism led them to switch.
“I learned so much during that internship that I know I’ll need in the future,” Alsulami said. “I feel I’m more than ready to take on the challenge of working for a major chain.”
Although the two will be on opposite sides of the globe in the future, they said they’ll continue their friendship.
“This business is all about connections,” Alsulami said.
Himalstein added, “We know we’ll cross paths again.”