As I look back on my four years as an undergraduate at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration, I have much to digest. Yes, there are the obvious, sometimes arduous academic memories that stick out – the stresses of deliverables, exams, and group projects to name a few – as well as the social nostalgia that swirls when I think about the many friends I have made and new relationships forged. But I would be remiss to isolate my collegiate experience as purely an academic and social dichotomy. Rather, it was an amalgamation, a fusion of both experiences that were best manifested in my three-year involvement with the HSMAI Cornell Collegiate Chapter.
When I first became involved with HSMAI on campus my sophomore year, I had no idea what career direction I was looking to follow, nor did I have any inclination about how to manage a team or lead it effectively. Three years later, I have not only discovered my passion for hospitality sales and marketing, but possess a more mature perspective about how to manage and lead a group of individuals professionally. HSMAI played an integral role in both of these discoveries.
I have learned so much about myself, and what I value professionally, during my tenure as the Collegiate Chapter President of HSMAI Cornell. Through this experience, I have had the opportunity to leverage not only the strong undergraduate and alumni pool that my school possesses, but rather team it with the vast and knowledgeable membership network of HSMAI to create and engage in opportunities for academic and professional growth. These opportunities have come in many forms: the numerous networking events, industry panels, University webinars, and conference programs were just a few of the direct opportunities that HSMAI provided me.
But the true advantage that HSMAI afforded me was far subtler than these obvious, tangible membership benefits. The greatest opportunity my collegiate involvement provided me was the chance to gain valuable industry perspective – to start developing a network of mentoring professionals, many of whom would end up providing tremendous guidance during my first full-time job search, while I was still in school. In fact, what is going to be my first full-time position in late August – Internet Marketing Manager for the Fairmont Southampton in Bermuda – was only discovered through an introduction from one of my HSMAI mentors.
Truly, the opportunities that exist for students to learn, grow and network through the HSMAI network are plentiful and have tremendously impacted my hospitality collegiate experience for the better. You just have to go out and embrace them.