As a junior in the The Knoebel School of Hospitality Management, various faculty and staff members ingrained in me that the summer between my junior and senior year was prime for an internship. I studied abroad in Cork, Ireland last quarter, so I knew I would be under pressure when I returned to secure something for the summer. I asked Jill how to go about researching internships and how to apply for them, but she told me one thing: “Mark your calendar for the career fair!”

I set my sights on securing something by spring break. I spent hours revamping my resume and making it look as modern and professional as possible. I made multiple appearances in Jill’s office reviewing the changes I made, seeking constructive criticism. Once it was complete, I went to go buy resume paper. (It’s expensive and comes in packs that are entirely too large. It’s quite likely that I’ll have enough resume paper for the rest of my working career.)

I went shopping for the perfect suit and settled on navy blue. I picked out a maroon shirt as well as a tan one along with a geometric tie that matched the colors of both shirts. A trip to the dry cleaner followed to get everything pressed and looking nice. I did my due diligence by researching the companies that interested me and rehearsed my elevator pitch.

The next day was game day. I showed up to Joy Burns all dressed in my new suit with my pad folio in-hand. I started by talking with the Kimpton representatives who I spoke with at their information session the previous night. After Kimpton, I made my rounds and eventually spoke with Marriott and Montage and finished up by talking with Four Seasons.

I spoke with Hollie MacCutcheon, from the Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch in Avon, Colorado, for probably 20 minutes. My talk with Brian Reeder from Montage Deer Valley wasn’t quite as long but was equally productive. I went into the conversations seeking interviews, and that’s exactly what I got. Montage at 9 AM the next morning with the Marriott/Ritz-Carlton an hour later at 10.

The next morning, Friday, began in Lauren’s office with an inspirational speech from Maddie Hayes. It worked. I killed the interview with Brian from Montage and wound up with an internship offer for the summer. One down, one to go. If nothing else panned out, I at least had a fall back plan. I then raced back to Lauren’s office and gave Maddie the biggest high-five I may have ever given anyone…it hurt her hand. (Sorry, Maddie.)

After coming down from the emotional high from receiving an offer, I went downstairs for my interview with Hollie. We exchanged pleasantries, and I came out with a line I wasn’t sure would work. Get a load of this: “I’ve proven to myself I’m capable. I’ve proven to my professors I’m capable. Now, I’m going to prove to you why I’m capable.” BOOM. Either she thought I was pretentious or very self-confident. Maybe both. You decide. I went through the 4 S.T.A.R. questions Marriott mandates for interviews and the other questions Hollie had for me.

Once she concluded asking me questions, it was time for me to ask mine. It’s never a bad idea to ask an interviewer what drew him or her to the company and why he or she continues to stay. That’s fairly surface-level though. Once I got the superficial (but informative) questions out of the way, I hit her with a tough one. I asked, “What does the sixth diamond mean to you?” If an interviewer ever sits up real straight, real quickly, you probably surprised him or her. Could be good, could be bad. In this case, it was good. Her initial response? “Someone really did their research!” Never a bad thing to hear during an interview.

Hollie then hit back with something equally as shocking, if not more so. She gathered her papers, tapped them on the table a couple times, and said, “Well, Kevin. I’d like to formally offer you an internship at the Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch!” My jaw dropped, heart raced, and the cat got my tongue. I was stoked to the max and was ready to punch a wall in excitement, but I had to play it cool. I did…until I got back upstairs with my peers. That’s when I exploded with happiness.

I put in three weeks of work and I wound up with two offers from two great companies. Moral of the story: if you’re willing to put in the work, there’s something out there for you. Take the initiative, put yourself out on the line, and then reap the rewards. Hey, you might end up spending the summer up in Avon at the Ritz!