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Hospitality management student Tristin Sornson gains industry experience as an intern at Mt. Bachelor

Nestled between the Pine Marten and Red Chair lifts at Mt. Bachelor is the Snowblast Tubing Park. Sledders fly down the hill on brightly-colored snow tubes, jump off at the bottom, ride a rope tow back up and do it all over again.  

Hospitality management senior Tristin Sornson was hired as the tube park supervisor for the 2017-2018 ski season. It’s one of three required internships she will complete as part of the degree program.

Jessie Shaw, Mt. Bachelor’s lift services manager, supervises Sornson. Shaw holds a degree in hospitality management and has worked at Mt. Bachelor for 15 years.

“I wanted to give Tristin the opportunity to manage a small team of entry-level employees,” said Shaw.

Sornson was ready for the challenge, and over the past six months has gained confidence, supervisory skills and customer service experience, including with the mountain’s international guests.

“It’s been so valuable to manage a team with different perspectives and communication styles,” said Sornson. “I’ve had to figure out how to work with them individually, and then bring them together as a team.”

The hill is open nine hours a day through snow, rain, sun and hail - which provides some serious bonding time for the staff.  Each morning, under Sornson’ s supervision, the team sets up fencing, stacks tubes, places signage and gets the rope tow going. They test the five sledding lanes and smooth out big bumps that could send a guest flying.

Safety is the number one priority on the tubing hill and Sornson takes the responsibility seriously, paying attention to every detail. Staff members give a safety speech to each guest, help people on and off the rope tow, start sledders down the hill and make sure the track is clear before the next group comes down. Sornson floats between staff and guests to make sure it all runs smoothly and safely.

“Every day is different in hospitality and you have to be comfortable with change,” she said.

She’s applying lessons from her lodging management class to the internship – like anticipating needs of customers before they ask and connecting with guests who have come to the mountain for a safe and fun outing in the snow. 

The internship requires a weekly log and a final project. Sornson is working with Shaw to develop new training materials for tube hill employees.

“I’ve fallen in love with the hospitality industry,” said Sornson. “I love resort management and the diversity of the workforce you find in hospitality. It’s an exciting industry to be in.”

Learn more about earning a degree in hospitality management at OSU-Cascades.