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

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 on the White Lodging website – This link opens in a new browser tab..

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.

White Lodging, established in 1985 by hospitality icon Bruce White, has evolved into one of the country’s largest privately held hospitality companies focused exclusively on highly curated urban and lifestyle properties. The company develops, owns and manages a portfolio of brands in destination-driven markets, including Austin, Chicago, Denver, Nashville, Indianapolis, and Louisville. With a focus on elevated and experiential service, White Lodging’s portfolio consists of approximately 60 premium hotels; a private collection of world-renowned luxury ranches; 50 locally relevant, award-winning restaurants; and 10 market-leading rooftop bars. White Lodging focuses on hiring and developing Hospitalitarians that are committed to exceptional service and fostering meaningful connections. White Lodging is the second highest in the 2021 J.D. Power Guest Satisfaction Benchmark for third-party management companies, and has been near the top since the first benchmark was published. For more information about White Lodging, visit or follow the company on LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.


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