Student Profile: Rebecca Harris

Rebecca HarrisWith the 2012 spring semester just getting underway, I thought it would be nice to begin the new year by profiling a student. Rebecca is working on her graduate degree in event and meeting management and seems to have realistic expectations when she gets out of school. Let's wish her good luck.

What school do you attend and in which program? 
I am a graduate student at the University of South Carolina in the school of Hotel, Restaurant, and Tourism Management. I received my undergraduate degree here, too. My undergraduate major was Hospitality Management with a concentration in Event Management. The university offers an Accelerated Bachelors/Masters program, where I could begin taking graduate courses while completing my undergraduate degree. My major is a Masters in International Hospitality and Tourism Management.
How did you learn about this program? Why did you select it over other universities?
I found this program through an Internet search. I knew that I wanted to go to a college with a hospitality management program. I wanted to find a school that also had a football team and was near/in a city. I visited between 15-20 schools, and when I came here, it just felt like the right place for me to be.
What made you want to make this a career?
In 10th grade, we were assigned a career search project. We took a few career tests and researched different professions. I found a career description for an Event Coordinator; it seemed like something I would be interested in. I started trying to plan events at my high school for different organizations to gain some experience. Since then, I knew that's what I wanted to go to school for and choose as my career. 
Have you already had the chance to work in your chosen field? If so, what was the job and for how long? Was it what you expected? Why?
I have been lucky enough to have a few opportunities to work in the event industry.  The first was an internship in the summer of 2010 working for The Architect's Golf Club and Catering in Lopatcong, NJ. I worked as an Event Assistant and the Assistant to the Catering General Managers. The internship was a great experience and I learned about the catering and venue management side of the event industry.

The positive and negative aspects of the job were in line with what I had expected. One negative aspect I completely underestimated was the time commitment required for this career. After working for three months, I had a better understanding of what a position in the event industry entails. I was still extremely interested in this field though. I took a more active roll in The AIDS Benefit Foundation of South Carolina, a non-profit organization I volunteer for, and got elected the co-chairperson for the Foundation’s fall event. 
What expectations do you have upon entering the work force once you graduate?
I expect that I may not be able to get the management position I want upon graduation, but I am prepared to work my way up to that type of position.
What do you feel are going to be your greatest challenges once you graduate (besides just finding a job)?
I think the greatest challenge I will have is finding the position I want in the geographic area I want to live. Many of my professors said that graduating students are being too picky when searching for jobs. They have too many requirements and high expectations. I am trying to remain open-minded and flexible when looking for jobs.
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