Thursday, June 17, 2010

Ann McAuliffe '06

Sales & Services Manager,
Visit Jacksonville

q: What do you do?

a:  I assist three sales managers at Visit Jacksonville, the Convention and Visitors Bureau for Northeast Florida. Some of my responsibilities include sending out leads, collecting hotel proposals and forwarding information to clients. When groups confirm their meeting for the Jacksonville area, I handle all of their service requests.
q: What's your favorite part of the job?
a: There is a new challenge every day. I focus a lot on the sports market so am constantly sourcing fields, parks and courts.
q: What's the greatest challenge?
a: Since being recently promoted, my biggest challenge is knowing where all the parks and fields are located and what would work best for specific groups.
q: Do you stay in touch with any other UCF hospitality alums?
a: I mainly stay in contact with Jen Sandler Rosenthal ’06. We have actually known each other since high school.
q: Outside work...you're most likely to be seen?
a: At the beach or the mall.
q: Your biggest accomplishment since graduating, outside your career?
a: Pursuing my MBA online with Saint Leo University. I am halfway through the program.
q: How did UCF prepare you for what you do?
a: UCF helped me out a lot. While working with groups that are bringing conventions to the city, I utilize a lot of the information I learned from my event classes as far as set-ups and square footage requirements. It was also a shock to my bosses when they hired me that I already understood the workings of a CVB.
q: Your favorite class?
a: Definitely Quality Brewing & Fine Beer. By learning so much about beer, I came to love and appreciate it even more.
q: A UCF memory?
a: It always seemed to be a challenge for me and my friends to figure out where to go during lunch breaks for school, considering the many options along I-Drive. I also remember visiting the parks before, after, and sometimes during class breaks.
q: Favorite meal in Orlando?
a: The beef empanadas from Café Tu Tu Tango are my absolute favorite!
q: On your iPod?
a: I know it’s cliché, but I really do have everything on my iPod, from 80s to Rap to Pop to Country. If it’s a good song, it’s on my iPod.
q: Little known fact about you?
a: It shocks people how much I love, know about, and follow sports...especially football.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Jessica Parrot '04

VIP Services Representative,
Treasure Island Resort & Casino

q: What do you do?

a: Manage exclusive services for "high-roller" guests at a AAA Four Diamond hotel on the Vegas strip. I check them in, answer questions, and set up them up with limos, dinners, shows, VIP lounge, and so on.
q: What's your favorite part of the job?
a: Seeing Vegas from the casino side, which is driven by financial motivation, marketing and psychology. It is a business continually improving its ability to learn what will make people spend their money. I also love all of my co-workers.
q: What's the greatest challenge?
a: Guests that are not classified as VIP players but ask to use our services. This is tricky because we want to treat all guests like royalty, but we need to keep VIP services available only to our best customers. We have to be diplomatic.
q: Do you stay in touch with any other UCF hospitality alums?
a: Here in Vegas, I've had the pleasure to get together with Don Richardson '89, after discovering him through this blog.
q: Outside work...you're most likely to be seen?
a: Hiking in Red Rock Canyon, climbing Mount Charleston, boating on Lake Mead or doing Bikram yoga. Occasionally I will go to the hotel pools but prefer to relax away from the strip when I'm not working. The non-stop party you see on T.V. is reality. Where I live is totally different; it's suburbia, similar to Waterford Lakes.
q: Your biggest accomplishment since graduating, outside your career?
a: Having the courage to go for it! I moved to a new city where I didn't know anyone and had no guarantees. It taught me a lot about myself.
q: How did UCF prepare you for what you do?
a: The classes teach you about working with people and building relationships. You also get a well-rounded foundation of knowledge about the industry.
q: Your favorite class?
a: The two classes I took with Dr. William Fisher. One was Restaurant Management. He is so engaging.
q: How could the hospitality program have been better?
a: With the addition of more focused classes, specifically Casino Management. Also it would be helpful to have a course like "foreign language for tourism" to learn key phrases to communicate with tourists from a variety of countries. It could also explain worldwide traditions and customs. For instance, our casino does not use $50.00 bills because they are considered bad luck. The Wynn Las Vegas, across the street, does not have a fourth floor due to tetraphobia, an Asian superstition associating the number four with death.
q: A UCF memory?
a: Study abroad at the Universite d'Angers, France. The other Rosen College students and I met people from all over the world, and got to see hospitality from a European perspective. Another unforgettable time is when my sorority ΔΓ partnered with the ΔΥ fraternity for Homecoming. It was like a scene from a movie when we won!
q: Favorite meal in Orlando?
a: The lobster ravioli at Bravissimo. Also, Bizzarro's Famous NY Pizza on the boardwalk in Indialantic.
q: On your iPod?
a: The whole gamut, so I have music to match my mood....including country, punk, emo, oldies, reggae and dance music.
q: Little known fact about you?
a: I studied Tae Kwon Do for five years and earned my Black Belt.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Daniel Elkin '08

Guest Service Associate,
Orlando International Resort Club
Daniel is pictured with his co-worker Angela

q: What do you do?
a: Provide guest services at a Wyndham Vacation Ownership resort, including check-ins and check-outs, night audit and overseeing housekeeping and maintenance requests.
q: What's your favorite part of the job?
a: Interacting with people. We have a good time here. It's an awesome team and we mix and match responsibilities.
q: What's the greatest challenge?
a: Saturdays. There are a lot of check-ins on Saturdays.
q: Do you stay in touch with any other UCF hospitality alums?
a: Pat Barrett '07, who works at Tuscawilla Country Club.
q: Outside work...you're most likely to be seen?
a: In my bed or golfing.
q: Your biggest accomplishment since graduating, outside your career?
a: I just bought a house.
q: How did UCF prepare you for what you do?
a: The instructors were great, not just teaching us the fiscal side of the business but also guest satisfaction. They taught us how to be caring to guests. Without them, we wouldn't have our jobs.
q: Your favorite class?
a: Exploring Wines of the World.
q: How could the hospitality program have been better?
a: It was located so far from Main Campus, and the bus was often overcrowded.
q: A UCF memory?
a: Tailgating, and good times with my ΦΔΘ fraternity.
q: Favorite meal in Orlando?
a: The Pasta Verde at Giovanni's in Oviedo.
q: On your iPod?
a: Hip hop from a few years ago.
q: Little known fact about you?
a: I used to work in the Box Office at the UCF Arena.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Yuliya Masangkay '03

Employment Manager,
Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center
(Maiden name: Yuliya Gavrilovich)

q: What do you do?
a: I've worked at the Gaylord Palms in Kissimmee, Florida for six and a half years. Currently I manage employment, which includes recruiting, hiring, and compensation for all the positions at the hotel.  
q: What's your favorite part of the job?
a: Gaylord Palms is a unique company because we have a very “grey” environment. We customize decisions and actions based on the situation. It’s fun to have the freedom to make decisions and to have an ability to think outside of the box to truly make a difference for a guest, a STAR, or a fellow Leader.
q: What's the greatest challenge?
a: While my department operates very smoothly, there's never enough time in the day. It took some time for me to realize that sometimes it’s O.K. to finish something that’s non-urgent the next day.
q: Do you stay in touch with any other UCF hospitality alums?
a: In addition to the many Rosen College alumni who work here, I also stay in touch with Jessica O'Boyle '03 and Oriana Guevara '04.
q: Outside work...you're most likely to be seen?
a: With my family. We are always out and about.
q: Your biggest accomplishment since graduating, outside your career?
a: Being a Mom....the most rewarding job I have ever had.
q: How did UCF prepare you for what you do?
a: I would have never been able to secure a position that I got after graduation without my Rosen degree. Relationships with Career Services and my professors have also helped me be successful in my current role.
q: Your favorite class?
a: Hospitality Law with Rosemary Krebs. She was a fantastic instructor and I was sad to see her leave UCF.
q: How could the hospitality program have been better?
a: The classes could be even more difficult, with more hands-on experience in food and beverage, rooms, etc. I have seen higher focus on practicum while recruiting at other schools and I would love to see that at UCF.
q: A UCF memory?
a: Long days! I worked and took extra classes to graduate early. Now that I look back, I have no idea how I did it and was able to have a life.
q: Favorite meal in Orlando?
a: Sushi at Amura. It might be something different tomorrow – we love trying new restaurants.
q: On your iPod?
a: Running music with a good beat for my running pace!
q: Little known fact about you?
a: I make everything from scratch including homemade bread and ice cream. We care a lot about what we eat and spend a lot of time reading up on latest research and creating an even healthier lifestyle for our family.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Mark Eppers '93


Director of Operations, ESP Productions &
Partner, Circle Two Productions

q: What do you do?
a: At ESP, we produce pre-game and half-time shows for major college football games including the Capital One Bowl, Orange Bowl and some Superbowls. My own company, Circle Two Productions, focuses on audio-visual, consulting and logistics management for the meetings and special event industry.
q: What's your favorite part of the job?
a: Creating smiles on the faces of my clients, and knowing that my company played a big part in the success of their events.
q: What's the greatest challenge?
a: I travel constantly throughout the U.S. and internationally, planning multiple shows at the same time. I need to keep up with regional labor and union laws, hiring local vendors, shipping and renting equipment, venue insurance requirements and special requests. It's a challenge just packing clothes and being away for weeks at a time, while still maintaining a home and sense of being an Orlando resident.
q: Do you stay in touch with any other UCF hospitality alums?
a: Scott Kaylor '93 to this day remains a great friend of mine.
q: Outside work...you're most likely to be seen?
a: Walking around Lake Eola and Downtown Orlando, with the occasional stop at an Irish Pub.
q: Your biggest accomplishment since graduating, outside your career?
a: Working with local children's charities and building homes for those in need. I try to give back as much as I can. What goes around comes around.
q: How did UCF prepare you for what you do?
a: Classes geared toward the business and financial side of the hospitality industry proved to be helpful, as well as learning industry terminology. College in itself is a place to learn about life and how to deal with people, politics, finances and relationships.
q: Your favorite class?
a: The cooking class (Quantity Food Production). We constructed a menu and then prepared it for our fellow students.
q: How could the hospitality program have been better?
a: The program had basically just started and I feel lucky to be a part of it. I had some great professors like Bill Quain and Bob Ashley. It's important to bring in guest speakers from a variety of hospitality fields for the students to interact with. There are so many ways to make a living in this industry. It's eye-opening to talk to real-live working professionals.
q: A UCF memory?
a: The first moment I stepped on the UCF campus. Right then I knew it was the school I wanted to attend.
q: Favorite meal in Orlando?
a: I love to cook and I'm rarely at home, so my favorite meal comes out of my kitchen. Here it is: seared ahi tuna with a warm spinach salad and a glass of red wine, on my balcony overlooking Downtown Orlando.
q: On your iPod?
a: All over the board including AC/DC, Jimmy Buffett, Kings of Leon, Sister Hazel and Zac Brown. Music is a great way for me to relax; it clears my head of everything. About 50% of the music on my iPod is for work though.
q: Little known fact about you?
a: I used to be a pyrotech, building and shooting off fireworks. I also spent a summer traveling, promoting and producing concerts at state and county fairs around the country. I slept in the back of a semi-tractor trailer and my boss was literally a clown.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Marissa Canneto '08

Assistant Manager,
Trader Vic’s Island Bar and Grill
Sarasota, Florida

q: What do you do?

a: I help manage the flagship Island Bar and Grill for the corporation, which is celebrating its 76th anniversary and has locations in the world's most coveted destinations such as Dubai. I consider myself extremely fortunate to be a part of such a long-standing and prestigious restaurant group.
q: What's your favorite part of the job?
a: Definitely auditioning bands. We have live entertainment Friday and Saturday nights at the restaurant. Being able to touch into the local music scene is the more fun part of my job. I also love designing advertisements and flyers, and managing the PR side of things.
q: What's the greatest challenge?
a: Hiring new staff for our opening. I had upwards of 1,000 applicants for the opening team at the restaurant and just over two weeks to bring them on board and get them trained to corporate standards. Plus, the fact that many of them are older than I am can sometimes complicate things.
q: Do you stay in touch with any other UCF hospitality alums?
a: Just a few… Chad Ingram ’09, Nick Bustillo ’08 and Andrea Hanson ’08.
q: Outside work...you're most likely to be seen?
a: At the beach. Siesta Key is one of the highest rated in the nation and I love it being so accessible.
q: Your biggest accomplishment since graduating, outside your career?
a: I just signed a contract for a house, so being 23 and purchasing my first home definitely qualifies as the greatest accomplishment for me so far.
q: How did UCF prepare you for what you do?
a: By taking a full course load and working full-time, I learned to understand the real-world “work” hours I am faced with today.
q: Your favorite class?
a: I enjoyed many of them. I wish I had taken more beverage classes since there are three bars in my restaurant; learning everything about beverage inventory and wines has been interesting.
q: How could the hospitality program have been better?
a: I think it’s a great program; however, a foreign language requirement would benefit students in the long run.
q: A UCF memory?
a: Football games, having awesome roommates, and graduation itself!
q: Favorite meal in Orlando?
a: Taverna Opa… amazing food, friends and fun. I went there for one of my last group dinners before I moved out of Orlando.
q: On your iPod?
a: A little bit of everything…Kings of Leon, Rihanna, Jay Z and Mariah.
q: Little known fact about you?
a: I’m the first in my family born in the U.S., and also the first to go to college.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Elizabeth Ford '08

Proprietor,
Super Suppers, Winter Springs

q: What do you do?

a: My company provides "Take n’ Bake" prepared entrees, sides and desserts. I manage the employees and all aspects of the business including food preparation, packaging, customer service, finances and marketing. We sell over 500 healthy, homemade meals to busy people each week.  
q: What's your favorite part of the job?
a: I love people and I love food, so this is the perfect business for me. I enjoy the customers and making the meals. I'm from a huge family and we've always enjoyed cooking together.
q: What's the greatest challenge?
a: Making sure we have enough food. If I try to forecast based on past weeks, we end up getting extra customers and I'm making last-minute runs to buy food! We offer 22 different entrées so it's a lot to manage.
q: Do you stay in touch with any other UCF hospitality alums?
a: Courtney Piggott '10 who will graduate from Rosen College next week, works here in the store. I also stay in touch with Lindsay Shaffer '08.
q: Outside work...you're most likely to be seen?
a: At Universal Studios; I love roller coasters!
q: Your biggest accomplishment since graduating?
a: Becoming a business owner more quickly than I thought I would. I was working here at Super Suppers when the owner decided to sell it. I couldn't let down all the customers so thought...why not? With two partners I was able to buy it. 
q: How did UCF prepare you for what you do?
a: I wouldn't know how to run a business otherwise! I loved everything about Rosen College; it gave me the guidance, tools and knowledge I need to be successful. The ServSafe Food Safety® class was extremely important to what I do every day, knowing how to handle food and the correct temperatures.
q: Your favorite class?
a: Quantity Food Production. Where else can you learn to cut an apple into a smiley face? I changed my major three times at UCF but found a home at Rosen College - this is something I really enjoy!
q: How could the hospitality program have been better?
a: More hands-on classes like the food prep class. This was more helpful than group projects.
q: A UCF memory?
a: The football championship games...traveling to Memphis for the Liberty Bowl in 2007, and to St. Pete for the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl in 2009.
q: Favorite meal in Orlando?
a: Chicken and shrimp cooked on a rock, at the Colorado Fondue Company in Casselberry. Also, their cheese fondue!
q: On your iPod?
a: Rap, R&B and country music.
q: Little known fact about you?
a: My Dad graduated from UCF in 1979. We're die-hard UCF sports fans and have season tickets for basketball and football. Our tailgates are impressive crab boils!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Corinne Large '09


Darden Meetings and Special Events,
BCD Travel


q: What do you do?
a: Create, plan and execute meetings and special events for Darden Restaurants. A team of four of us (three are UCF graduates) manages 400 meetings and events each year. These include everything from an employee Earth Day celebration next week...to store openings across the U.S....to annual worldwide conferences for each restaurant brand.
q: What's your favorite part of the job?
a: Events at our new headquarters. This space lets us think outside the box. The lakeside parties are incredible.
q: What's the greatest challenge?
a: Pushing myself to be better, constantly inventing creative concepts for events that haven't been done before.
q: Do you stay in touch with any other UCF hospitality alums?
a: I live and work with Lisette Gonzalez '05. Also: Lauren Staiano '09, Melissa Beer '09 and Zack Myers '08.
q: Outside work...you're most likely to be seen?
a: At home, at the beach, fishing, or at my boyfriend's ranch in Tampa.
q: Your biggest accomplishment since graduating, outside your career?
a: Taking the initiative to start a mentor program for UCF hospitality students. Lauren Staiano '09 and I are working with Rosen College and the UCF Alumni Association to build a program that will match current students with alumni mentors. 
q: How did UCF prepare you for what you do?
a: It was very hands-on. In my first internship, I spent a month ironing tablecloths and washing dishes. I learned all about different plate sizes and types of linens, which is helpful to my work today. The people at Rosen College teach you to be a go-getter. Other programs prepare you for success in your job, but Rosen also teaches you how to get the job.
q: Your favorite class?
a: Event Design, Production & Technology with Susan Lee. She shared her real-life business experiences with us, and did not hand-hold. We had to think and create the event ourselves. That class was great preparation for the real world, especially learning about timelines. The interviewer for Darden/BCD Travel was impressed with my portfolio, which focused on the event we produced for that course.
q: How could the hospitality program have been better?
a: I would have loved a mentor in the event management business. Also, the finishing details of an event (floral arrangements, napkins, etc.) are never formally taught through the curriculum, only perhaps through your internship or trial and error at student-managed events. A "set-up" or "day of event" class should be required. 
q: A UCF memory?
a: The gloating when my team won the challenge in Quantity Food Production class! Melissa Beer '09 and I did a chest bump! It was so fun.
q: Favorite meal in Orlando?
a: The soup, salad and breadsticks at Olive Garden. Also, sushi at Shogun.
q: On your iPod?
a: On Pandora: Janis Joplin, Norah Jones, Tracy Chapman, Jack Johnson and JJ Grey & Mofro.
q: Little known fact about you?
a: I've also launched my own business called The Wedding Directors, together with my Mom. Our first customer was just happily married in South Florida.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Lindsey Cullen '09

Event Coordinator,
Il Mulino New York Trattoria

q: What do you do?

a: Marketing and sales for the Italian restaurant at the Walt Disney World Swan. With a large number of small private flexible spaces, we can host a private reception or party with a customized group menu for up to 400 guests.
q: What's your favorite part of the job?
a: The food! The general atmosphere...it's easy to sell...and people too. This is a nice family. I have worked here almost three years, previously as a supervisor at the pool restaurant. I helped opened the cabanas after their renovation.
q: What's the greatest challenge?
a: Juggling everything and taking time for myself. Today alone there are four events. Also, walking in heels for many hours at a time. The floors here are slick!
q: Do you stay in touch with any other UCF hospitality alums?
a: Valerie Davis '06 works here at Shula's. My two roommates Erica Yerton '08 and Courtney Landl '08 also work here at the Walt Disney Swan and Dolphin Resort.
q: Outside work...you're most likely to be seen?
a: At happy hours in the Sand Lake Area, or at the gym.
q: Your biggest accomplishment since graduating, outside your career?
a: I just graduated in December, so getting this full-time job while in school is my big triumph. I beat out highly qualified candidates, including some who had already graduated from Rosen College.
q: How did UCF prepare you for what you do?
a: It taught me how to talk to people...to be personable and hospitable. It also taught me to be patient with people, which is so important. Kathie Canning, who works full-time at the Orange County Convention Center, taught my event sales class and helped us develop these important communication skills.
q: Your favorite class?
a: Dr. Mary Jo Ross was my favorite professor. My favorite course was Event Design, Production and Technology with Jennifer Janette, who works full-time at Hello Florida!
q: How could the hospitality program have been better?
a: The events held at the Rosen campus, particularly the capstone projects for seniors, need to be more organized. Since we focus on event management, it should be an easy streamlined process.
q: A UCF memory?
a: Planning and hosting the Mad Hatter Brunch at Rosen College, for Andrea St. Onge's Event Management II class.
q: Favorite meal in Orlando?
a: I love Seasons 52. I order something different every time, mostly new offerings from their seasonal menus.
q: On your iPod?
a: Anything that's happy. I need to get pumped up for my job! I have an eclectic mix, from country music to Jay-z and Fergie. 
q: Little known fact about you?
a: I'm from Kansas. I came here for Rosen College's Event Management program and will never move back.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Kelly Dunn '08


Marketing & Membership Coordinator
Boca Greens Country Club

q: What do you do?
a: Three different jobs all at once! I manage marketing, membership and catering for a semi-private, member-owned country club in Boca Raton, Florida.
q: What's your favorite part of the job?
a: I love to coordinate weddings! So much detail goes into planning a wedding and you get to be creative. I am in the beginning stages of hosting a bridal showcase and it's very hard work but exciting at the same time. I also love working at a Country Club because the food is delicious!.
q: What's the greatest challenge?
a: Selling any type of event. In this hard economic period, no one is spending money like they used to. Booking a wedding at $100 per person is extremely hard.
q: Do you stay in touch with any other UCF hospitality alums?
a: I do! Laura Guelzow '08, Brittany Andrews '08, Sarah Wilkins '09, Jillian Kahn '08 and Erica Seypura '08.
q: Outside work...you're most likely to be seen?
a: At home! I just recently moved to South Florida and I only know a few people. I visit Orlando frequently to see friends.
q: Your biggest accomplishment since graduating, outside your career?
a: Living on my own! When I was in college, I did not truly appreciate my parents' financial support. But I am proud that I have made a pretty comfortable home for myself.
q: How did UCF prepare you for what you do?
a: It wasn't about the technique of chopping an onion or learning to prepare a financial statement. Even though I flinched at the phrase "Group Project," it really prepared me for the real world. Building relationships with people is an everyday occurrence. I work closely with our General Manager, Food and Beverage Director and our Accountant. There is no "I" in "Team" right?
q: Your favorite class?
a: Seminar in Quality Brewing and Fine Beer. It was not your typical college lecture. Not only was it interesting, it was fun and interactive. My #2 favorite was Yacht, Country and City Club Management.
q: How could the hospitality program have been better?
a: I wish they could have offered more "Club Management" style classes. Overall, I was very pleased with the program.
q: A UCF memory?
a: Football games will always be good memories! However, I will never forget the day that I moved to Orlando from Loveland, OH to start at UCF. Boy was that a change! It was the best decision I have ever made.
q: Favorite meal in Orlando?
a: At UCF: Pita Pit (Suvlaki). In Orlando: Texas de Brazil!
q: On your iPod?
a: My iPod is currently empty. My computer crashed and I lost all my songs!
q: Little known fact about you?
a: I'll admit it. I watch Teen Nick!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Chris Zaremby '03

Training Specialist,
Rosen Hotels and Resorts

q: What do you do?
a: Manage and coordinate all training for 3000+ associates at seven properties. This includes record keeping, new hire orientations, quarterly OSHA training, annual management training and executive learning curriculum programs, responsible vendor classes and specialty courses like food safety and CPR. I also developed R.E.A.L., the Rosen Executive Academy for Learning, a quarterly lecture series for salaried supervisory staff covering topics relevant to their daily work and life such as workplace violence and healthy living.
q: What's your favorite part of the job?
a: In addition to my primary responsibilities, I head up our Service Advisory Council and plan our annual Golden Pillars Service Awards gala, honoring exemplary associates. I love meeting our very best people, which is the opposite of what most HR people do. I also enjoy the feeling of a "light bulb turning on" in a student's head. My Blood-Borne Pathogens course, focusing on Hepatitis and HIV, turns me into a science teacher. The moment someone "gets it"...I can just tell. The excitement of new associates at orientation is incredible - they are so happy to have a job, but nervous, and I can sense how the class makes them more comfortable.
q: What's the greatest challenge?
a: Doing more with less. Being the only dedicated training associate, I believe that efficiency is the key to success. I don't want to waste associates' time, but want to give them everything they need to do their jobs well.
q: Do you stay in touch with any other UCF hospitality alums?
a: Many of them work here! I'm very close with Liz Geer Cain '03, Ilyssa Backer '04Dave Buckalew '05, Erica Acquavita Buckalew '04, Gary Deel '07, Nikki Suit Stellges '03, Kim Haan M.S. '09 and Scott Mifsud '03.
q: Outside work...you're most likely to be seen?
a: With my family and friends, with the alumni chapter of my sorority, or volunteering with the SPCA. I provide foster care for dogs with heartworms.
q: Your biggest accomplishment since graduating, outside your career?
a: Being able to stay happy and do everything I want. I'm fortunate to have a husband and two kids, job, volunteer work and still have a busy social life.
q: How did UCF prepare you for what you do?
a: It allowed me to graduate in only three years. I transferred from Penn State, where it would have taken me four years to graduate. 
q: Your favorite class?
a: I liked all the professors who taught from the heart. I also liked any class that challenged my way of thinking, like Dr. Pizam's Tourism Geography, which taught us about different cultures. Beverage Management stands out in my mind because at the time it included field trips to wine bars, and also to Friday's to learn about specialty drinks.
q: How could the hospitality program have been better?
a: The college will become prestigious if the admissions process is more competitive. Learning a foreign language should definitely be required, especially for hospitality. Of all industries, we need it - to communicate with both employees and guests.
q: A UCF memory?
a: Being involved with the design team for the new Rosen College campus, and attending the dedication ceremony. I still have my hard hat! I was one of the students chosen to help interview prospective instructors for the new school. Also, I remember frequently standing out because I was in a suit while other students were in sweats. I worked full-time as the assistant to the GM at the Radisson on Alafaya, usually coming or going to class straight from work.
q: Favorite meal in Orlando?
a: In my kitchen! My husband is a great cook and never makes the same thing twice. I don't go out to eat frequently but when I do, I have strict rules. I don't like chain restaurants and don't go to the same place twice. I'm the same way with traveling; if you spend the money, why not experience something new?
q: On your iPod?
a: I wouldn't own an iPod because I like switching around the radio stations and hearing new songs (similar to my eating and traveling rules). I have a long commute so have become a National Public Radio junkie.
q: Little known fact about you?
a: I was one of ARAMARK's youngest ever facility managers, completely running a food center at the University of Florida. I was offered a manager position right out of school only because I took the initiative to chat with the ARAMARK representative at the Rosen College Career Fair. She remembered me when the Gainesville position opened up, and then I got promoted within a year. I don't miss the 60-70 hour work weeks, but it was an incredible opportunity.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Zulkeira Rodriguez '07

Event Sales Coordinator,
ICEBAR Orlando


q: What do you do?
a: Plan parties for convention groups at ICEBAR on International Drive, the largest ice bar in North America. Part of the venue is kept at 27º F and carved from more than 50 tons of ice. My job is primarily sales, but I also manage details including décor and catering; for instance, a company having a team-building event in June will have a professional mixologist teach their guests how to create their own drinks, followed by a contest to see who can create the best original drink. We can host corporate groups or private parties up to 475 guests.
q: What's your favorite part of the job?
a: This is a celebrity attraction. Earlier this week the Food Network was here filming for an upcoming show.
q: What's the greatest challenge?
a: Our concept is unique and successful for visiting groups, but we have a more difficult time with individual locals. Restaurants on Sand Lake Road with happy hours and food are competition. Also I think locals remember the $40 admission to the ICEBAR when we first opened a year and a half ago. It is completely free to come to the Fire Lounge (warm part of the club) and now only $14.95 to enter the ICEBAR if you purchase your tickets online.
q: Do you stay in touch with any other UCF hospitality alums?
a: Ralph Robinson '06, Sullyann Gonzalez '07, Mickey Grier '09 and Jessica Rivers '09.
q: Outside work...you're most likely to be seen?
a: At a Magic game...I'm a season ticket holder.
q: Your biggest accomplishment since graduating, outside your career?
a: I'm currently working toward my Certificate in Event Management from Rosen College. This will earn me points toward becoming a CMP (Certified Meeting Planner).
q: How did UCF prepare you for what you do?
a: It taught me about the networking organizations I needed to join. The faculty all gave us real world advice. The hospitality industry loves Rosen College. I know of several companies that will only hire Rosen graduates.
q: Your favorite class?
a: The History of Wine.
q: How could the hospitality program have been better?
a: It's critical that an event software course be added, specifically including CAD (like MeetingMatrix), banquet event orders and automated proposals. Nearly every event position involves RFPs. I interviewed for a job and did not get it because I hadn't used a certain type of software.
q: A UCF memory?
a: Tailgating at the football games.
q: Favorite meal in Orlando?
a: At KOBÉ Japanese Steakhouse. I'm a VIP cardholder and go there for every special occasion like my birthday and graduation.
q: On your iPod?
a: Anything that has a good beat, like Lil Wayne, MIA, Kings of Leon, The Fray and Missy Elliott.
q: Little known fact about you?
a: I have five star tattoos.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Patrick O'Neal '08


Food and Beverage Assistant Manager,
Hilton Orlando

 
q: What do you do?
a: I'm a roving manager with responsibilities for all seven of our restaurant outlets. This encompasses fine dining, casual dining, breakfast, lunch, pool service, room service, and quick service. I need to understand every employee’s role in the operation.
q: What's your favorite part of the job?
a: Working with the best in the business. From top to bottom, Hilton Orlando’s 800 employees make an elite team. I consider myself extremely fortunate to learn from such an innovative and dynamic group. I come into work every day with a passion to gain something new.
q: What's the greatest challenge?
a: Our hotel opened in September 2009, so the greatest and most rewarding challenge is putting all the operating systems in place. Every outlet is very different, and fine tuning policies and procedures takes a lot of brainpower and teamwork. It’s an effort that involves employee feedback, guest feedback, and leadership input. There are no precedents to follow, and every big group in house is a new challenge.
q: Do you stay in touch with any other UCF hospitality alums?
a: I keep in contact with Giancarlo Lanfranco '08, Kelly Smith '08, Mickey Grier '09, and Andrea Chinea '09. I grew up with Laird Boles '02 and Jeff Boles '09. They are very close friends of mine.
q: Outside work...you're most likely to be seen?
a: I love playing golf and fishing. I live in Delaney Park so you might see me at Burton’s and Sportstown, but I’m rarely out of work!
q: How did UCF prepare you for what you do?
a: Public speaking taught me how to control my nerves. I really hated it my first semester, but all the repetition was priceless. If you want to be a leader, public speaking is a must.
q: Your favorite class?
a: Among many others, I enjoyed Hospitality & Tourism Marketing with Dr. Sandra Naipaul, and also Hospitality Communications with Carole Dickson.
q: How could the hospitality program have been better?
a: I believe that the cafeteria should be the best in the nation. There is no reason to contract the service to an outside company. If Three Pillars Café could be woven into the curriculum of Restaurant Management students, it could be beneficial to all parties.
q: A UCF memory?
a: I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent at Rosen; my best memory is graduating, and reflecting back on all UCF did for me.
q: Favorite meal in Orlando?
a: Linda’s La Cantina has amazing steaks and is very nostalgic to me.
q: On your iPod?
a: Live Widespread Panic! I love those guys.
q: Little known fact about you?
a: My high school was Culver Military Academy in Culver, Indiana. Notable alumni include George Steinbrenner, Bud Adams, Eugene Eppley, Hal Holbrook, Lamar Hunt, Roger Penske, and Gene Siskel.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Michael Fisch '04


Front Office Manager,
Hyatt Regency Newport Beach

q: What do you do?
a: Oversee the front desk and guest services for a 403-room bayside resort in Southern California. My six-year career with Hyatt has also included positions at the Hyatt Grand Cypress, Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay, Hyatt Regency O'Hare in Chicago, and the Hyatt Regency-San Francisco.
q: What's your favorite part of the job?
a: Working with my employees; I love my team and watching them get promoted. I also enjoy interacting with the guests. We have many frequent business travelers who come here every week, so I get to know them personally.
q: What's the greatest challenge?
a: Service scores. We've done well and had a 5% increase since I started here. However, that means we need to think outside the box and get to the next level. We're always brainstorming ways to make our service even better. 
q: Do you stay in touch with any other UCF hospitality alums?
a: Yes, Dave Buckalew '05, Erica Acquavita Buckalew '04 and Anne Cecil Fischer '04.
q: Outside work...you're most likely to be seen?
a: Traveling. I've been to 70 Dave Matthews Band concerts. Next week I'll be in London and see two of his shows.
q: Your biggest accomplishment since graduating, outside your career?
a: Meeting my girlfriend. I met her through Hyatt and we've been dating five years.
q: How did UCF prepare you for what you do?
a: It set the right expectations. I work 12 hours a day. By going to UCF, I knew that these kind of hours would be involved. It gave me the right attitude to succeed.
q: Your favorite class?
a: All my classes with Dr. Peter Ricci.
q: How could the hospitality program have been better?
a: While at UCF I didn't enjoy group work at all, but looking back, we should have had even more. It prepared me for working with other departments, like sales and catering.
q: A UCF memory?
a: Our trip to New York, and being president of our chapter of the Club Managers Association of America (CMAA).
q: Favorite meal in Orlando?
a: The honey mustard and BBQ wings at the Ale House. I go there at least three times on each trip to Orlando.
q: On your iPod?
a: Dave Matthews Band, Jason Miraz and Guster.
q: Little known fact about you?
a: My long-term goal is to teach at Rosen College.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Jeff Carcara '92


Director of Operations,
Seasons 52

q: What do you do?
a: Lead all operations for the Darden restaurant chain to ensure consistency and excellence across the entire dining experience. My responsibilities include...well, just about everything except marketing...including overseeing the field directors, financial reporting, hiring new managers and restaurant openings. A Seasons 52 just opened in Tampa and we're in the process of adding locations in King of Prussia, PA, Schaumburg, IL and Costa Mesa, CA. I've been doing lots of traveling.
q: What's your favorite part of the job?
a: Being in the restaurants and making an impact. I like inspiring the managers to in turn inspire their teams. I draw my energy from the guests and team members - something like how Superman gets his energy from the sun.
q: What's the greatest challenge?
a: Finding great people to help grow our company.
q: Do you stay in touch with any other UCF hospitality alums?
a: I see Jeff D'Arpa '94 every few years. I have stayed connected with UCF in general, having had season football tickets since I graduated and recently joined the Dean's Advisory Board of the Rosen College of Hospitality Management.
q: Outside work...you're most likely to be seen?
a: On the sidelines of one of my son's football games, or taking my daughter to her dance classes.
q: Your biggest accomplishment since graduating, outside your career?
a: My family. I'm proud of maintaining and growing my relationship with my wife and kids.
q: How did UCF prepare you for what you do?
a: My college time prepared me for the social aspect of this business.
q: Your favorite class?
a: Quantity Food Preparation. Our class ran a restaurant, and that experience helped me decide what to do with my career.
q: How could the hospitality program have been better?
a: Having had the resources available to today's students. A separate campus allows them to learn with fewer distractions. A focus in the program should be on teaching how to find, inspire and retain good employees, because people are what differentiates one company from the next.
q: A UCF memory?
a: My internship at Bennigan's in Casselberry. I met my wife there! I also had a great GM who empowered me to learn the business.
q: Favorite meal in Orlando?
a: At Seasons 52, I'd have the BBQ shrimp flatbread, organic green salad with truffle dressing and swordfish ponzu, with a glass of the Mulderbosch Sauvignon Blanc, plus a pecan pie mini indulgence.
q: On your iPod?
a: 90's Rock like U2, Pearl Jam and the Dave Matthews Band.
q: Little known fact about you?
a: I've started writing a book about the hospitality business. It's a real-life tale on how to succeed; for instance, part of success is never feeling comfortable. I'm up to page 43.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Carmen Cox '06

Director of Sales and Marketing,
Hilton Garden Inn,
Virginia Beach Town Center

q: What do you do?
a: Sell to groups coming to our 176-room property, located in the new Town Center of Virginia Beach. Built in 2003, our hotel is within walking distance of great shopping, restaurants and nightlife. I manage client calls and requests.
q: What's your favorite part of the job?
a: Building relationships with my clients and meeting all different types of people.
q: What's the greatest challenge?
a: Time management…staying organized and meeting deadlines while still keeping up with selling!
q: Do you stay in touch with any other UCF hospitality alums?
a: Yes! In fact, my former boss Sarah Butler '04 was a Rosen Alum and I also met Angela Petruso '05 who is the sales manager at the Wyndham Virginia Beach Oceanfront. Small world!
q: Outside work...you're most likely to be seen?
a: Spending quality time with friends and family…I know, such a cliché answer, but it’s true!
q: Your biggest accomplishment since graduating, outside your career?
a: Traveling to Ireland, France, Germany, and Holland.
q: How did UCF prepare you for what you do?
a: The real-life experiences taught by the professors provided me with a good understanding of what to expect in the real world. Plus, the internship and hands-on training really gets your feet wet, in all sorts of areas of hospitality.
q: Your favorite class?
a: Catering Management. Our “Fire and Ice” event rocked!
q: How could the hospitality program have been better?
a: Provide more opportunities for students to do a site-tour of a true workplace for whatever track they are studying.
q: A UCF memory?
a: Tailgating and never making it to the actual football game.
q: Favorite meal in Orlando?
a: Gino’s Pizza located in Downtown..their pizza is so good, especially at 2 a.m.
q: On your iPod?
a: All sorts of music..from Alisha Keys to Queen to Justin Timberlake.
q: Little known fact about you?
a: I love to play soccer.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Jessica Crespo '05

Senior Meetings and Special Events Manager
The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes
Maiden Name: Jessica Solomon


q: What do you do?
a: I help produce successful meetings and events for groups visiting The Ritz-Carlton Orlando. I'm the main point of contact for their meeting planners to coordinate audio visual, catering, décor and room requests. I act as the "voice of the meeting planner" to each pertinent hotel department. This helps set up the Ladies and Gentlemen who work at The Ritz-Carlton for success.
q: What's your favorite part of the job?
a: Building strong bonds not only with loyal, repeat clients, but also with the people I'm fortunate enough to work with on a daily basis within the hotel. I love that everyone's committed to do whatever it takes to make each program or event the very best. It's truly an extended family here because we're together so much with the long hours we work. Every day brings new challenges and, in turn, new innovations. This keeps the hospitality industry interesting.
q: What's the greatest challenge?
a: The expectations of the seasoned meeting planner or bride are constantly increasing. Meetings and weddings have evolved over the past few years and we are constantly pushing boundaries and trying to come up with new, innovative solutions and offerings for our guests.
q: Do you stay in touch with any other UCF hospitality alums?
a: Yes, with many who work here at the hotel and within the local industry, including Jason Ring '07, Marissa Moore '07, Holly Steinebronn '07, Julie Noda '05, Candi Evett '06, Joe Manglardi '08 and Brianna Callahan '05. They keep me in touch with the luxury market of Orlando.
q: Outside work...you're most likely to be seen?
a: Taking advantage of my beautiful downtown neighborhood. I often spend weekends at the farmers' market with my dogs, riding my bike and enjoying brunch with my husband and friends.
q: Your biggest accomplishment since graduating, outside your career?
a: Getting married to my husband two years ago, after we dated throughout college.
q: How did UCF prepare you for what you do?
a: Certain hospitality classes taught me things that are useful in my current position, such as hospitality law and classes geared towards wine knowledge.
q: Your favorite class?
a: Exploring Wines of the World.
q: How could the hospitality program have been better?
a: It would be beneficial for UCF to continue to seek new partnerships with local hotels and restaurants, and focus on strengthening its current partnerships. Professors should teach students that a management job directly out of college is not the norm; rather, it is the exception. Students need to focus on experience and internships to secure the jobs they ultimately want. My first position with The Ritz-Carlton was as an hourly concierge, which prepared me extremely well for my current position.
q: A UCF memory?
a: I have many fond memories of my sorority sisters from Kappa Delta. They include volunteering, planning Homecoming events and Spirit Splash.
q: Favorite meal in Orlando?
a: Either El Coqui Mexican/Puerto Rican cuisine on Bumby or Sea Thai on Colonial.
q: On your iPod?
a: Citizen Cope, Kings of Leon, Jay Z, The Black Keys, Black Eyed Peas, Stephen Marley, Sam Sparro, Santigold, Common, Kanye West.
q: Little known fact about you?
a: I met my husband on Spring Break in Daytona Beach.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Andres Calvo '05



Special Events & Membership,
Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Association

q: What do you do?
a: Among other things...keep track of registration for most events, prepare presentations shown at those events, and help respond to members' questions.
q: What's your favorite part of the job?
a: Seeing the end result of our events like Bacchus Bash and the Hospitality Tradeshow, after all the different steps we go through to make them happen. Bacchus Bash, Orlando's largest street party, attracts over 25,000 people. It annually raises over $100,000, which is later awarded to hospitality students in the form of grants and scholarships.
q: What's the greatest challenge?
a: Making sure every single detail is perfect and maintaining everything in sync.
q: Do you stay in touch with any other UCF hospitality alums?
a: Yes. Lindsey Teal '06 and Samantha Ramirez '05.
q: Outside work...you're most likely to be seen?
a: Watching a movie, at a restaurant, or hanging out with friends.
q: Your biggest accomplishment since graduating, outside your career?
a: Helping with CFHLA's collection drive for items to be sent to Haiti due to the terrible earthquake. The response we received was amazing and we were able to collect medical supplies, water, food, and clothes that were then sent through Harvest Time International.
q: How did UCF prepare you for what you do?
a: Having professors that are also current professionals in the industry provided an insight that proved to be as helpful as a book.
q: Your favorite class?
a: Lodging Operations with Peter Ricci, and all the classes I took with Duncan Dickson and Denver Severt.
q: How could the hospitality program have been better?
a: Fewer group projects. While learning how to work with others is a great tool, when you add together having a group project for every class, a job, and all the students' different schedules, it can be quite a challenge.
q: A UCF memory?
a: Walking around Disney and Universal with a video camera, preparing a project on Disney’s FastPass vs. Universal’s ExpressPass.
q: Favorite meal in Orlando?
a: So many to choose from: Beef Carpaccio at Brio, Filet Fiorentina at Carrabba's and Venezuelan food at Q'Kenan (across from the Premium Outlets).
q: On your iPod?
a: Don't have one, I use a Zune! A little bit of everything... Rock, Pop, a couple of movie and video game soundtracks, and every single Green Day album.
q: Little known fact about you?
a: When I first came to the U.S. as an international student, I didn't intend to go to college here. My original plans were to study the English language for a year and go back to Venezuela.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Rachael Vogel '05


Director of Corporate Catering & Special Events,
Levan's Catering

q: What do you do?
a: Manage all planning of corporate and social events. This includes the menu, logistics and set-up. About 70% of our events are weddings, but the sky's the limit on what I could be working on! Right now, it ranges from a Super Bowl party at a private residence...to a formal plated lunch for 575 people at the UCF Student Union.
q: What's your favorite part of the job?
a: Every event is different. It's not the same banquet and awards ceremony year after year. I love how trends change too. For instance, Tiffany Blue was big in weddings for a while. Lately we see brides thinking outside the box, with colors as non-traditional as black with neon.
q: What's the greatest challenge?
a: The economy. I've worked here five years and many corporate clients would hold the same extravagant holiday parties every December. Now they tell us they're having a potluck so don't need our services. People are of course still getting married, but on much smaller budgets than I saw earlier in my career.
q: Do you stay in touch with any other UCF hospitality alums?
a: Julie Noda '05, Brittany Andrews '08, Holly Steinebronn '07 and Tanya Weir Irizarry '08, who also works at Levan's.
q: Outside work...you're most likely to be seen?
a: Out-and-about...Downtown with friends, or traveling.
q: Your biggest accomplishment since graduating, outside your career?
a: Five years out of college, I know who I am and where I want to go.
q: How did UCF prepare you for what you do?
a: The course content was geared toward our industry. For instance, I could have taken Financial Accounting anywhere, but the examples used at Rosen are specifically for concepts and procedures used in hotels, restaurants and clubs.
q: Your favorite class?
a: Exploring Wines of the World, Quantity Food Production and Hospitality Law. Rosemary Krebs who taught the law class really made you think; for example, if eight guests cram into a hotel room booked for two people, are they really all "guests" and where does the business' liability begin and end?
q: How could the hospitality program have been better?
a: Incorporate more alumni guest speakers who are successful in their careers but been out of school 10 years or less. Vice presidents of big companies have information to share about the industry, but students can relate more with younger professionals. It would be helpful to learning the day-to-day operations in the jobs and departments where they'll find themselves after graduation.
q: A UCF memory?
a: My friends. I was born and raised in Gainesville so 100% of my friends I have here in Orlando are those I made at UCF.
q: Favorite meal in Orlando?
a: The filet at Del Frisco's, but I'm always up for sushi.
q: On your iPod?
a: I have an iHome alarm clock hooked to my iPod with a random shuffle, so I never know if I'll wake up to a country song or Old School Rap. I listen to everything depending on my mood; when I have lots of work to do and a need for adrenalin, I'll play Rock or Alternative at my desk.
q: Little known fact about you?
a: My new hobby is making jewelry, and I've already sold a few pieces. Like my job, I love that I'm hands-on - it keeps me busy and uses my creativity.