August 13, 2009

Co-op Experience: Danielle Banks

"I got to go in and improve the way things were run around the hotel. It put me in a position where I had responsibility and my colleagues came to me for my input."

Facilities Management (BFPM) ’10
Co-op Employer: Radisson Hotels & Resorts
Position: Assistant to Chief Engineer

Turning obstacles into opportunity

As Danielle Banks, BFPM ’10, faced the challenge of searching for a co-op position in today’s difficult job market, giving up was simply not an option. Banks was eager to get career experience and determined to find co-ops in unique locations. She decided she wanted to be in Florida for her first co-op, so she began to explore opportunities that would provide the biggest benefit for her education and career interests.

After talking to several dozen companies, Banks realized it was going to be difficult to find a paid co-op. She accepted the fact that she might not find the perfect position, but instead of missing out on the co-op experience she took an unpaid position at the Radisson, and worked two part-time jobs to generate income for living expenses.

“With this economy, what else are you going to do? It’s either give up and surrender, or fight. All you can do is try to stay positive. There were times when I wanted to throw in the towel, but I knew I just had to make it work.”

Reforming Radisson

Banks ended up finding a role that she was able to excel in. She started at the Radisson and immediately recognized the opportunity to improve the structure and organization of the hotel, identifying the key issues and implementing practices that could streamline operations. Banks had various roles in the hotel, and came to find that what she liked the most was introducing new procedures, improving business functions, and redeveloping corporate standards.

“I got to go in and improve the way things were run around the hotel. It put me in a position where I had responsibility and my colleagues came to me for my input.”

Applying the Lessons to Life

During her two years at Wentworth, Banks has taken the intense course load and curriculum in stride. After being in the field, she now has a better understanding of how it helped prepare her. Banks says she used to sit in her “Materials and Tech Studies” classes and wonder why she would need to know all the information. After being asked questions about the fire safety guide or being consulted on procedures to make sure everything was up to code, she was grateful that she understood what her colleagues were talking about and could have an intelligent conversation with them.

“It was great because when I brought up things I learned in class, people acknowledged that even though I was a student, I had good ideas. I felt very prepared and that my opinion was valued.”

In the end, despite the demanding circumstance of having to work in an unpaid co-op position and balance other jobs in order to make her co-op happen, Banks felt that she could not have asked for a better situation.

“It was amazing to realize that I have essential knowledge that I can bring to the table, and I understand now how I’m going to use the things I learn in class.”

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