Industry Update
Press Release12 March 2021

White Lodging Introduces Launch Hospitality Immersion Program For Purdue University Students

In-Depth Training Guides Participants Through Immersive, Three-Year Program at the Union Club Hotel at Purdue

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White Lodging's LAUNCH Hospitality Immersion Program is designed to propel high-caliber university students into the industry by providing paid, hands-on experiences across all hotel and restaurant operational areas.


Using the iconic and recently fully transformed 182-room, Union Club Hotel on Purdue's campus as its real-life laboratory, LAUNCH is phased in over three stages and complements classroom education with skill mastery and leadership training. The goal of LAUNCH is to ultimately help accelerate participants' hospitality careers upon graduation - at White Lodging and across the industry.

"We are serious about building the future leaders of our industry and designed LAUNCH to be a competitive, world-class opportunity," said Ken Barrett, president of White Lodging. "LAUNCH participants will achieve the critical skills and training - complementing Purdue's School of Hospitality and Tourism Management's globally recognized curriculum - to secure the best possible careers after graduation."

Each stage of LAUNCH is supported with a designated mentor relationship and builds upon the learnings and experiences of each previous stage, ultimately culminating in a comprehensive manager-in-training program.

  • Stage 1: Rooms Operations - Front of House, Back of House
    • Stage 1.1: Optional: Summer Job Opportunity at White Lodging
  • Stage 2: Food & Beverage - Front of House, Back of House
    • Stage 2.1: Optional: Summer Job Opportunity at White Lodging
  • Stage 3: Manager in Training
    • Stage 3.1: Management Job Opportunity at White Lodging (pending availability)

"LAUNCH participants who take advantage of all of the program components will essentially have nearly three years of experience when they graduate," said Vicki Wicks, general manager at the Union Club Hotel and one of the program's mentors.

"The School of Hospitality and Tourism Management's mission is to develop future leaders through rigorous learning programs of which experiential learning is a core component," said Susan Gordon, PhD, MBA, an assistant professor in Purdue's HTM program. "LAUNCH is an exciting opportunity that will provide participants with invaluable experience as they prepare to assume leadership roles upon graduation."

A pilot program kicked off this semester with the first official LAUNCH participants planned for Fall 2021. Applications are now being accepted at

One of the pilot program participants, Ellie Manlick, a senior at Purdue, said, "what I like most about the LAUNCH program thus far has been the individualized guidance from the management team. They are all dedicated to helping me succeed by providing ample resources to best support me."

During the third stage of the program, participants are evaluated for full-time, leader-level employment at one of White Lodging's properties or restaurants - based on availability. If a position is not available at White Lodging, the company will assist in finding other full-time industry employment.

The opportunity to participate in LAUNCH is limited to a select number of students each year, and students must meet minimum qualifications to apply and are selected based on quality of candidates and number of positions available.

White Lodging operates the Union Club Hotel, 8Eleven Modern Bistro, Boiler Up Bar and Leaps Coffee on behalf of Purdue. It is one of the leading hospitality management and development companies in the United States with approximately 90 premium-brand hotels across the country. The company's relationship with the university also provides students, faculty and staff with access to information and resources, including guest lectures and curriculum consulting.

About White Lodging

White Lodging, established in 1985, is one of the leading ownership, development, and management companies in America. An innovative trendsetter, the organization's portfolio includes convention, urban lifestyle, and suburban select hotels with more than $1 billion in mana ged revenue. White Lodging operates more than 90-premium hotels, 30 restaurants and 30 brands in 20 states. Success knows no boundaries at White Lodging, where associates and leadership have consistently earned superior guest satisfaction scores, top market share and industry-leading profit margins while recruiting the best, brightest, and most passionate professionals in every discipline for three decades. White Lodging is a proud winner of the Gallup Great Workplace Award. For more information about White Lodging, visit, or connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

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