Israel Luna - Hays Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) Intern
Israel Luna admits he enjoys talking and likes to meet people. So, it is easy to see why he has always enjoyed working in the restaurant business.
After learning about the abundance of opportunities that the tourism industry has to offer, Luna decided to work on a second bachelor’s degree at Fort Hays State University. Luna, who already has a degree in Spanish with a minor in political science, graduated in May with a bachelor’s in tourism and hospitality management.
He is completing his degree requirements while gaining invaluable experience at his summer internship with the Hays Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB), located in the Hays Welcome Center.
Luna looked into the internship after Melissa Dixon, executive director of the local CVB, spoke on campus in one of Luna’s classes last spring.
“I didn’t even know what a CVB was back then,” Luna said. “But after Melissa explained everything they did, it sounded so interesting. I’ve learned that hospitality management is very diverse. Besides hotels, there are jobs at casinos, resorts, cruise ships, chambers, convention and visitors’ bureaus – a lot more than I ever imagined.”
While earning his second degree, Luna continued his first love – working at a local restaurant – then jumped at the chance to learn more about the tourism industry this summer.
So far, Luna has taken registration at a golf tournament and a conference at the Hilton-Garden Inn and has handed out welcome packets to athletes at an AAU track and field meet in Hays.
“I had no idea the CVB did that sort of thing at events,” he said. “There are so many welcoming things the CVB does that keep people coming back to Hays. This has helped me so much already. Seeing how the CVB and the hotels and restaurants work and realizing that so many things work together to make a city like Hays. I’ve learned that tourism is a lot of people collaborating to make things work.”
The CVB annually employs an intern for the summer. Dixon, in her sixth year at the CVB, calls the internships a win-win situation for the CVB and Fort Hays State.
“It seems that every student in the program is so enthusiastic about travel and tourism like we are, so it’s always been a really good fit,” Dixon said, adding that Luna brings his own set of unique qualities to the table.
“A lot of our student interns have been in the hotel and resort industry,” Dixon said. “Israel is giving us good insight into food and beverage.”
Luna had a possible internship lined up in Colorado, a carryover from last year when it was canceled because of the pandemic. While the status of that internship was unclear, he said he felt fortunate about the opportunity at the CVB. For that, he credits Lisa Karlin, career advisor for FHSU’s Career Services.
“If it wasn’t for Career Services, I wouldn’t have been able to find this internship right here in town,” Luna said. “Lisa worked with me and made the process very smooth. It made me see how well the internship program runs.”
Luna believes it will be a smooth transition to the workforce because of his CVB experience this summer.
“I have learned so much how the CVB and the hotels and restaurants are working together for the same thing - to make Hays stand out. It’s pretty amazing,” he said. “One of the most valuable things I’ve gained is networking, all the people I get to meet through working at the Welcome Center. It’s so interesting to meet people who make Hays the great place to work, to live in, and to visit.”
I am a content specialist at FHSU, and storytelling is part of my DNA. Those close to me say I was born talking and that I haven’t stopped since! Writing began at a young age for me, and my entire professional career has been spent putting words down on paper. My passion for telling stories has taken me many places over the years, and some of my most memorable moments have been covering Tiger Nation. I am a Tiger through and through. My entire family – my husband, our two sons, and I – all attended FHSU, and we will soon have four degrees in the family when our youngest completes his MBA. I am honored to spread the great news of Fort Hays State by telling the stories of our Tiger family – students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends of the university. God bless, and go Tigers!