A look of shock followed by the question “How old are you??” is the immediate reaction when I tell people what I do for a living. At 28 years old, I am the General Manager of a platinum rated country club in Chevy Chase, MD. When I pictured my career, I never in a million years saw myself walking up the manicured lawn of the club and being greeted by some of the best employees in the world.
My achievements just six years after college are a testament to the education I received at Niagara University’s College of Hospitality & Tourism and the experience provided by internships and jobs held throughout my college career. In the classroom, we learned tourism and cultural geography, industry information systems, marketing, planning, design, quality customer service, sales techniques, and event and transportation management just to name a few. Our professors are natives in the industry and have experience at properties all over the world. In addition, our degree requirements demanded we take liberal arts courses, making us well rounded students able to interact with clients on an intellectual level.
Niagara gave us the resources to gain internships in every aspect of the industry. We had students at country clubs, hotels, athletic facilities, and some of the most prestigious destinations in the world. How many 19 year olds have the opportunity to work at Villa D’este on Lake Como, the New York Athletic Club (ranked #1 in the U.S), or the Cherokee Town And Country Club in Atlanta?
My first position out of college was at the Maidstone Club in East Hampton, New York. Not only did I learn from some of the best service providers in the business, but with such influential membership, I learned a level of customer service that is unmatched. It is my hope that I have transferred this level of customer service to my position at Columbia.
A key factor in my education at Niagara was our CMAA Student Chapter. Niagara’s chapter has been the student chapter of the year for the past six years. Under the guidance of our advisor, Dr. William Frye, we worked outside the classroom to do projects and polish our skills through fundraising events, networking opportunities at local club’s and the hands on experience we received through our internships.
Although it is important to remain discreet about financial issues, it should be noted the average starting salary of a Niagara College Of Hospitality and Tourism graduate is $7,000.00 higher than the average starting salary for a new college graduate in humanities and social sciences. (National Association of Colleges and Employers, 2014. )
My experience has been very unique and I have Niagara to thank for that. With the right education and training, there are careers waiting – some with great challenges – but that lead to tremendous rewards.