Dennis Washington, OU SeniorProduction Manager assists NicoleTaylor, past OU productionmanager intern.
The production manager's position is often the toughest one a foodservice director has to fill, at least partly because the skills needed to do it well are "highly specialized and best acquired from within the department," says Rich Neumann, director of dining services at Ohio University, Athens OH.
It was the need to develop such candidates that led Neumann to develop a specialized production manager internship program at the OU campus a year ago. Since then, the strategy has proven so effective, "we're doing a workshop on it at the NACUFS conference next month," Neumann says.
Student interns are paid a salary, receive elective credits towards their course of study and must be willing to work a minimum of 25 hours a week, he says. The program teaches them how to forecast, order and control inventory, offers hands-on experience supervising food production in the dining halls and covers other operation basics from the posting of bills from vendors to the coordination of special events and the supervision of menu planning and staff meetings.
"This doesn't guarantee you an offer of employment, but it is an excellent way to evaluate a strong candidate's potential," Neumann adds.
Neumann and OU production manager Nicole Taylor, who was hired from the internship program, will provide full details on it at the NACUFS conference in New Orleans, Friday, July 15.