Blake Murphy, a WKU College of Health and Human Services (CHHS) senior majoring in hospitality management with a concentration in hospitality, restaurant and tourism management, is gaining valuable experience this summer. Murphy is from Junction City and is spending his summer at Hyatt Place in Bowling Green as operations manager, while earning internship credits toward his degree.
Having worked at Hyatt Place since August 2020 and following a series of promotions, Murphy took on the role of Operations Manager in hopes of expanding his skillset. He feels the manager role has given him a new perspective on the hospitality industry and helped him learn what it means to be a manager, how to apply those skills, and how to help others use those skills.
Murphy shared, “Being a hotel operations manager and still being in school puts me ahead of other people in the field because it shows determination to be a full-time student and work 50 hours or more. every week. Working for my General Manager, Ms. Kacie Hood, gave me a different perspective on hotels and helped me see how a hotel should be run. She is the most amazing boss and is the one I strive to be one day when I am the General Manager of my own hotel.
On a day-to-day basis, as Operations Manager, Murphy helps where needed around the hotel. He said a typical day might consist of needing to fill in at reception, in the kitchen, with housekeeping and maintenance, or even cleaning the pool. He gains experience coordinating with food and beverage vendors, managing HR issues at the front desk, hiring and training new staff, managing deposits, working with the selling the hotel on group and meeting spaces and working with the housekeeping department on busy days to make sure the rooms meet company standards.
Asked about his experience at WKU, Murphy expressed how CHHS faculty member Julie Lee inspired him during his food science class. “I wasn’t looking forward to taking this class because I was a terrible cook and even worse with measurements, which was what the whole class was about. Chef Lee went out of his way to make sure I wasn’t left behind. She would meet with me on Fridays to go over the metrics and help me prepare for the dreaded metrics quizzes we had every Monday.
During these sessions, Chef Lee shared with Murphy her experiences at different ends of the hospitality industry. He said: “Chef Lee did it all and was amazing every step of the way. She inspired me to pursue the hospitality industry and advised me to keep climbing the ladder to be the best I can be. If it wasn’t for Chef Lee, I wouldn’t be COO of a Hyatt hotel as a senior in college, I can tell you the same. She’s changed so many people’s lives for the better and she doesn’t even know it.