Posted October 17, 2007

English castle gives tourism students unique internship experience

Interns Bridget Clark (left) and Mary Wojtkowski (right) stand outside of Ripley

Castle in North Yorkshire, England.

The recent partnership of the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management and its first international executive-in-residence, Sir Thomas Ingilby, gave two lucky STHM students the opportunity to intern at his famous Ripley Castle in North Yorkshire, England, for the summer 2007.

Ingilby has turned his historic home, located inside the quaint village of Ripley, into an event venue capable of holding large weddings and corporate outings.

The castle also features many tourist attractions such as tearooms, walled gardens, guided tours, a gift shop and the nearby award-winning Boars Head Hotel.


Overseeing such a wide range of attractions, Ingilby sought two interns capable of handling a challenging task while remaining open and receptive to new learning experiences.

Over the course of 10 weeks, senior Bridget Clark and junior Mary Wojtkowski worked in a range of capacities, from housekeeping to marketing for the entire estate. According to Ingilby, this is the goal in training interns.

“We aim to give our interns invaluable hands-on experience in every department of Ripley Castle and the Boar’s Head Hotel, so that by the end of their stay they will have worked as receptionists, bar staff, waiters — in three different outlets covering fine dining, bistro and tearooms — event organizers, wedding planners, housekeepers and marketing personnel.”

The interns felt that the well-rounded program that Ingilby constructed helped them receive the best tourism and hospitality experience possible.

“Each department is vital to the success of Ripley Castle as a whole. By gaining hands-on experience in each of the departments, it made it easy to see how each piece fits into the whole estate to make it successful,” said Wojtkowski.

Working at the castle also opened the students up to a new culture. According to Ingilby, this is one of the most vital benefits of the internship. “Our interns are immersed in another place and another culture for at least three months: This gives them a much broader outlook on life.”

Clark said that paying attention to cultural differences gave her an experience that not many other internships could offer. “One of the things I noticed culturally is the emphasis on the dining experience,” she said. “In England, restaurants are not concerned with turning over tables; they are concerned with the experience each guest receives. Guests relax in a lounge while they order their food. Then they are escorted to their table that is set to perfection, and every small detail is taken into account. It was interesting to notice these nuances, and I know this will really help me in the hospitality industry.”

Wojtkowski and Clark advise other students to explore similar opportunities.

“Students should take any opportunity to intern abroad,” Wojtkowski advised. “[They should] make as many connections with people as they can, and just soak up the culture and make the best of the learning experience.”

— Written by Margaret Mastrogiacomo

For the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management