Connecting classwork and real-world practice with Charles Vanchiere
"Lafayette is centered around the school, geographically, but there's just so much to do, there's so many opportunities and the campus is beautiful. The whole atmosphere of being at UL Lafayette is something that you feel. You can feel it, you can understand that you belong here.”
- Hospitality Management
- Lake Charles, La.
Where I'm From
I grew up in Lake Charles learning about food from my dad, who was a chef.
Where I Am
I am a hospitality management student in the Moody College of Business Administration.
Where I'm Going
I am going to integrate my passion for food into my career.
Charles Graham Vanchiere chose to major in hospitality management to complement his love for food.
“My dad was actually a chef, so we grew up cooking with him and eating a lot of interesting food,” Charles said. “I know that I want to do something with that because it is my passion, but I haven't decided between catering, or doing events, or owning a restaurant.”
Even without an exact career destination in mind, Charles knows he’ll get plenty of “flavor” in Lafayette.
“Lafayette is centered around the school, geographically, but there's just so much to do, there's so many opportunities and the campus is beautiful,” he said. “The whole atmosphere of being at UL Lafayette is something that you feel. You can feel it, you can understand that you belong there.”
Learning from an internship
To meet the requirements for his hospitality management major, Charles completed an internship where he got hands-on experience that will help in his future career.
“It was really good to get actual job experience. Working as an intern was very interesting because I didn't have a particular job. I worked about 20 hours a week, so I would come in, and it was generally something different every day,” he said. “So, one day I would be doing inventory, and the next day I would be doing website design, and the next day I may be doing alcohol inventory research.”
The themes he learned in his classes helped Charles keep up with his ever-changing duties.
“A lot of times in the internship we were doing things that I didn't know how to do. But understanding the basic elements and then learning how to communicate from these classes came in handy a lot, because I was able to not be a burden and fulfill all the duties that they required of me,” he said.
Important work in the classroom
His internship has been valuable for his coursework, as well. For his event planning class (HMGT 407) Charles wrote a paper on the “demographics and psychographics based around the internship’s big event.”
Charles learned to look at current events and how they influence the industry. For his beverage management class (HMGT 452), Charles did a research project on the impacts of COVID-19 on the bar industry in Louisiana.
“We were tasked throughout the whole semester to watch local ordinances and state regulations,” he explained. “We watched as a lot of people thought it would get better quickly and it took a very long time.
“I conducted an interview in Lake Charles with a bar owner and he took out a small loan,” he said. “He took it out for maybe two months’ worth of these costs because he thought that's the most it was going to take. Eight months later, he was still there and didn't have any money to cover his building, and he was still shut down.
“He got stuck in this position where because he had taken out a loan, it made him ineligible for some grants and some of these grants weren't even available to him because he sold alcohol. Bars really suffered due to these COVID restrictions,” Charles said.
Becoming well-rounded through interdisciplinary study
His business courses have taken him to actual businesses in the community to shadow employees and learn how to manage properties and keep up with industry standards. His professional ethics (PHIL 316) class also taught him the value of taking classes outside his own major.
“We had this auditorium style classroom, and every day that we walked in there was a lot of discussion about ethics and about different dilemmas,” Charles explained. “And it was really nice to interact with people that weren't just in my major and see perspectives from different people.”
His philosophy class, his business curriculum, and his overall experience as a student at the University have shown Charles that hospitality management was the right choice for him.
“I like working with people. I've learned a lot more about people over the last four years. I've definitely expanded my horizons,” he said.