Charleston hotelier welcomes back Irish student interns

Developer and Dublin City University intern host Michael Bennett (right) shows Mayor Joe Riley a model of the eight-story hotel he’s building on King Street.

Charleston hotel developer Mike Bennett is once again helping put “intern” in international relations.

Every year since 2009, his Bennett Hospitality has played host to four summer interns from Dublin City University in Ireland to spend 10 weeks in the Holy City to learn the ins and outs of the lodging industry from the ground up.

“They’re so incredible,” he said.

The latest crop of students officially reports to work June 15. Bennett said the fourth-year undergrads get exposed to various sectors of the business.

“They might work front desk, they might clean rooms for a week, they might work in engineering ... they might go on sales calls,” he said last week.

Students must be enrolled in a specific university academic track to apply, according to the university. But they don’t have to be interested in a hospitality career, Bennett said.

“I think some of them are,” he said. “That’s not a requirement. The school narrows the list down to 10 people and then we do a video interview from Charleston to Dublin.”

Typically, two men and two women are selected for the positions, which include housing and pay. This year’s interns are Elizabeth Daly Ni Bhroin, Niamh Hussey, Ian Kennedy and Karl Cummins, according to the university.

Bennett is of Irish descent and has traveled there extensively. He is on Dublin City’s Irish-American board and is a trustee of its DCU Educational Trust.

One of Bennett’s former summer interns, Beverley Egar, now works for him as an assistant. She completed the program in 2011.

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“It’s pretty hotly contested,” Egar said last week.

This year’s group is arriving at a busy time for Bennett’s hospitality empire, which has grown to include 16 hotels and eight restaurants in four states. His company recently broke ground on a $101 million eight-story hotel at the former Charleston County Public Library site on King Street, next to Marion Square.

Reach Allison Prang at 937-5705 or on Twitter @AllisonPrang.