University Dining Service offers internships as well as food

by Allie Winter

To many students, the University Dining Services means a quick snack on the way to class, but for some it’s a stepping stone into the marketing scene.

The UDS “Food Dude” marketing internship launched in August 2005. This program has remained somewhat unknown, but Director of UDS Larry Weger said he believes it’s beginning to take off.

“I don’t know if it’s widely known,” he said. “We try our best.”

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Students who act as “Food Dudes” get a taste of their future careers by helping market different University restaurants and convenience stores to other students. Weger said it’s an effective way to communicate what options are available within UDS, the locations, products and services.

The interns polish their marketing skills by getting out of the office and hitting the streets of campus. The program focuses on peer-to-peer marketing, product sampling and promotional activities, literally preparing the interns for the real world, according to Weger.

“It’s real,” he said. “This is the real world; UDS is a real business and this is real stuff, not just a project.”

“Food Dudes” agree. Julie Cristea, an international business and marketing junior, has been interning with UDS marketing for almost a year and a half. She started in January 2006 as a “Food Dude” and now does more of the promotion work in the office, but Cristea loved every minute of being a “dude.”

“I just loved the fact that I got to work with students every day and inform them about things relevant to their lives,” she said.

Aside from the fun the program provides, Cristea said the learning experience alone preps interns for careers.

“It really gives you face time with people,” she said. “It teaches you how to work in a team and get leadership experience.”

UDS introduced the program to not only benefit students, but to actually help its marketing, Weger said.

The “dudes” do their part by acting as a communication tool between UDS and students, Cristea said.

“It’s one thing to hear a 40-year-old talk about Flexdine,” she said. “But when students hear someone their own age talk about it, it’s great for both sides.”

And UDS couldn’t be more on board.

“Nobody can communicate better with students than other students in terms of their needs,” Weger said. “They can do a better job than we can.”

And when it comes to needs, having an internship rests high on most students’ lists because most jobs out of college require students to have some interning experience before being considered.

Senior marketing student Adam Severin said he’s never heard of the “Food Dude” internship, but stressed how crucial it is to intern while in college.

“If I hadn’t had a marketing internship, it 100 percent would have hurt me,” he said.

Severin also said internships in the marketing field give a sense of what’s actually happening out there by learning marketing strategies and watching them being implemented.

Internships last for one semester or longer and are compensated.