Two University of Southern Mississippi business students have discovered that paradise includes much more than just a tasty cheeseburger.
Seniors Alison Cox and Tiffany Glavan, both tourism management majors, are spending their summer break from the rigors of classroom instruction as interns with LuLu’s at Homeport Marina in Gulf Shores, Ala. The popular Gulf Coast restaurant and tourist spot is owned by Lucy “LuLu” Buffett, sister of renowned singer/songwriter Jimmy Buffett.
The partnership with Southern Miss represents the first official internship LuLu’s has offered. Evelyn Green, an instructor in the Department of Casino, Hospitality and Tourism Management at Southern Miss, arranged the internship with LuLu’s General Manager Johnny Fisher.
“We want our students to observe first-hand and embrace business philosophies and practices that would help them become successful managers or entrepreneurs in casino, hospitality and tourism operations,” said Green. “LuLu’s business philosophy of putting the power of hospitality to work, applying it first and foremost to its employees made LuLu’s an ideal employer for our interns.”
Cox and Glavan did not know each other before the internship program began. But since joining LuLu’s team in early June they have worked shoulder-to-shoulder as full-time employees at the busy restaurant, which also features a gift shop, expansive online store and live music nightly. Their daily duties include food preparation, helping in the gift shop, greeting and seating customers, assisting in the warehouse and any other tasks required by the management staff.
“I absolutely love it down here,” said Cox, a Hattiesburg native who plans to graduate next May. “In fact, Tiffany and I have decided to stay on and work part of August. This is such a cool environment and we’ve really had a unique opportunity to learn every aspect of LuLu’s business. And the really neat thing is that there is so much more to it than a regular restaurant operation.”
Glavan is a Gulf Coast native who hails from Ocean Springs. She said the intern opportunity has provided invaluable insight that will be useful as she plots a career in event planning upon graduation in December.
“This has been the most rewarding and exciting experience,” said Glavan. “They had us on a regular 40-hour-a-week schedule. And keep in mind that LuLu’s is open from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m. seven days a week and seats about 3,000 people a day in the restaurant. I could not have asked for a better intern opportunity.”
Lucy Buffett said having the interns learn her business represents the consummate win-win situation.
“Education, the arts and Southern Miss are very dear to my family,” said Buffett. “The College of Business promotes education and excellence in every facet of business. Developing this partnership cements my commitment and LuLu’s commitment to nurturing the many talents right here along the Gulf Coast.
“To me, Southern Miss is not just a building in the business of teaching people. It is a living culture that believes in the greatness of each student and genuinely works to bring that greatness to light. Being a part of that is an amazing honor.”
Buffett points out that managers and staff at LuLu’s further benefit by having a fresh set of eyes to evaluate the various processes in place and offer suggestions from an academic point of view.
“Their contributions will add to the experience we provide for each our guests,” said Buffett. “At the end of this experience, we want our interns to know that they are as much a part of the LuLu’s family as any other employee.”