Behind-the-scenes work of 22 Mercyhurst students help make Las Vegas conference a success

Mercyhurst College and its Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management program have formed a partnership with Reed Exhibition Companies, the world's largest business-to-business trade show production company, an agreement that will allowHRIM students to work on trade shows around the country.

After a year of planning, Mercyhurst College instructor Darrin Stern took 22 HRIMstudents to work at the June 1, 2001, Las Vegas Jeweler Circular Keystone Show, an annual show that is ranked as a top 100 trade show by Tradeshow Week Magazine. To prepare for the show, the second largest in the world, the students trained three hours a night, once a week for nine weeks before leaving to spend about 15 days in Las Vegas. 

"Not only does this agreement help the company save money, but the quality of the work done by our students amazed everyone," said Darrin Stern, the HRIM instructor who arranged the program with Reed, his former employer. "At first, some people were a little apprehensive, but once they saw our students, dressed and acting completely like professionals, they were sold."

Mercyhurst's cooperative agreement with Reed Exhibition allowed its students to work in all facets of the operations of this event. This year's event represented more than 3,000 exhibition companies and welcomed more than 45,000 visitors. In addition, the program will be repeated each year, and the students will participate in the February Orlando JCK show.

In order to earn a free airline ticket, hotel accommodations and food stipend that served as their remuneration, the Mercyhurst students had to apply for the program just as they would a full-time job. They submitted resumes and cover letters and participated in interviews with HRIM faculty before the final choices were made.

While the program will help raise the HRIM program's visibility, it primarily serves as a vehicle for providing the students with real-life experience. 

"This gives them a chance to see how these shows work, what goes on behind the scenes and how much effort goes into an event of this size," said Stern. The partnership between education and industry is ground-breaking for both Reed and Mercyhurst. Neither organization has ever had this level of cooperation on an event of this size with this number of students.

Stern said he hopes this first successful step will encourage other companies in the trade show business to do the same.

"We hope others will see this success and contact us to do the same with them, because this program is really new to this type of industry," said Stern.

Shown in this photo taken at the June 2001 JCK Show in Las Vegas:

Darrin Stern, a Hotel, Restaurant Institutional Management program instructor at Mercyhurst College, Dennis MacDonald, senior vice president of Reed, Dave Bonaparte, industry vice president of Reed, and the following Mercyhurst HRIM students: Eric Barr, Matthew Beach, Andrew Casserly, Michael Coleman, Jeff Donahoe, Kevin Dwyer, Chad Giger, Brian Jaymont, Christina Maffei, Paul Mascosko III, Jodie Maxim, Shelly Mickey, Patrick Minnillo, Kristin Radwanick, Laura Rowles, Jenifer Schwartz, Shauna Snyder, Anthony Tomaino, John Vano, Dave Vitale, Jason Weeden and Leah Wright.

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