Student Profile: Tiffany Mast

Tiffany MastIn the past several months in this space, I've profiled several educators. I plan to continue to do so. But after interacting with so many on the teaching side, I thought it would be interesting to do a few student profiles and get a sense of how they view the industry from their point of view.

My first is Tiffany Mast, an undergraduate senior finishing May 2012. Say hello to Tiffany.

What school do you attend and in which program?
I attend the University of South Carolina where I am a public relations major with the School of Journalism and Mass Communications, which is part of the College of Mass Communications and Information Studies. My minor is hotel, restaurant and tourism management in the School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management which is part of the College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management. I am a senior graduating in May 2012.

How did you learn about this program? And why did you select it over those of other universities?
I initially decided to come to the University of South Carolina after learning about its Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management program. I found out about this program through a friend of mine, who told me that the program was part of the Academic Common Market, an opportunity for student in participating southeastern states to get in-state tuition at out-of-state schools. This greatly intrigued me because I have always been interested in event planning and travel. I ultimately choose my major in the school of journalism because I felt public relations would help me develop strong writing and publicity skills. My major/minor combination of public relations and hospitality caters to students interested in event planning careers.

How did you come to choose this? What made you want to make this a career?
I have changed my major and minor a few times, like many other college students, but the difference for my was that I simply shuffled around journalism, HRTM and business until I found the right combination for me. Ultimately, I have learned as many event planning skills from my public relations classes as I have from my HRTM classes. I decided event planning was something I would like to turn into a career after years planning social and philanthropic events in high school and college.

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?
On multiple occasions I have had the chance to work in event planning. My initial interest was piqued after planning homecoming dances and powder-puff football games in high school. Now, in college I have worked with my sorority, Make-A-Wish and Ronald McDonald House Charities to plan and execute multiple events, including four major fund-raising campaigns.

I quickly learned that philanthropic events are unique because the budget is next to nothing and the events are run off donations. Within the HRTM program at University of South Carolina, I took a wedding planning class. In class, we planned and executed a real wedding in eight weeks, solely using donations. Planning events has been just what I expected: stressful, fast-paced and unpredictable, but always rewarding.

What expectations do you have upon entering the work force once you graduate?
I am not entirely sure what to expect upon entering the workforce after graduation. I am hoping that I will be well equipped with the latest industry knowledge and an asset to a company. I will probably have to work my way up and I am fully expecting to have to explore the industry until I find the right job and company for me.

What do you feel are going to be your greatest challenges once you graduate (besides just finding a job)?
I think my greatest challenge after graduation will be developing my reputation in the industry. When I look at applications they always use "years experience" as a qualifier. As a student I have plenty of internship and fund-raising experience but I think companies will want me to prove myself within their business. Event planning will always offer new and unique challenges, so employers will want to see how I handle those unexpected situations, or even crises, before they take a risk on me and hand me more responsibility.
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