Student Stories: Santino Cardoso

Santino Cardoso

Major: Restaurant Management

Santino Cardoso’s lifelong dream was to work in the hospitality industry.

“It started when I traveled abroad to the Caribbean and throughout Europe,” he said. “I was trying other cuisines and interacting with people who are passionate about providing exceptional service to guests. This was an intangible experience that really spoke to me. Traveling around through different countries and seeing how they radiate hospitality instantly led me to decide that the hospitality industry would be my definite choice of career.”

Cardoso knew College of DuPage had an excellent Culinary and Hospitality program, and it was close to his home.

“The professors offered a top-notch educational experience by blending the educational materials with the real-world situations that need to be taught in any field,” he said. “COD courses offered the flexibility of attending college and working at the same time, helping me set a fine balance.”

The professors offered a top-notch educational experience by blending the educational materials with the real-world situations that need to be taught in any field.

Santino Cardoso

He enjoyed taking unique courses, such as “Introduction to Wine,” which helped him keep up with emerging trends in this fast-paced industry. But the course that really impacted him was the external internship.

“The internship honestly put into perspective some of the classwork materials as related to the ongoing duties of a restaurant manager,” he said. “There are also some materials that have to be learned outside of the classroom, and it was interesting to be able to go through the actual situations in order to gain more knowledge.”

3+1 Programs at COD

After earning his associate’s degree in Restaurant Management, Cardoso finished his bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management through COD’s 3+1 agreement with Roosevelt University. He worked as a floor manager at Roka Akor Old Orchard in Skokie, where his responsibilities included scheduling the front-of-house staff and building relationships with guests. He then became the Food and Beverage/Rooftop Terrace Manager at LondonHouse Chicago.

His dream of working at a high-end hotel in the Middle East came true when he accepted a job as restaurant manager for the Kempinski Residences and Suites in Doha, Qatar. He worked in the exclusive Z Lounge with panoramic views of the city and helped revamp the beverage program, which included creating signature craft-cocktails.

“Qatar is really investing in tourism, and seeing big projects come to light was impressive,” he said. “I enjoyed working in a multicultural environment and being part of a team that’s striving to be the best of the best.”

Returning to the U.S., Cardoso worked as the Senior Food and Beverage Manager at the St. Jane Hotel Chicago and is now the Food and Beverage Manager at the Omni Chicago Hotel. He recommends College of DuPage to anyone interested in the culinary or hospitality fields because of the many offerings, the 3+1 program, and the student clubs and organizations.

“There are variety of clubs that assist you in either getting scholarships or networking in general,” he said. “Attending the career and internship fairs that are held every semester is vital in order to familiarize yourself with potential employers. Another option is to start looking for a job in the field to get the hands-on experience.

“If you have what it takes to radiate hospitality, be innovative and work in an upbeat environment, this is the field to look into. And there’s no better place to start than in a LEED-certified building with state-of-the art equipment and appliances. Choosing COD as an option for either completing an associate’s degree or going through the 3+1 program is unrivaled by other institutions.”

Learn more about the Restaurant Management program at College of DuPage