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.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Nadia Johnson '09


Catering Manager,
Club Cambria, Amway Arena

q: What do you do?

a: I work for Orlando Food Service Partners, managing the catering in Cambria, one of Amway Arena's private clubs. I'm there for every single event when the club's open, which includes Orlando Magic games, concerts, and other events like lacrosse games. I started here as Suites Coordinator three years ago.
q: What's your favorite part of the job?
a: Interacting with the guests. I couldn't go to work at a job where I didn't have fun. The event, people and menu here change daily so I never get bored.
q: What's the greatest challenge?
a: Staff. High turnover rates in this industry, training and retraining are a challenge when there's a need for high quality service and consistency.
q: Do you stay in touch with any other UCF hospitality alums?
a: Amanda Baruch '09, who I just trained to be our Suites Pantry Coordinator, and Nicole McCracken '08, Catering Manager for both the Canon and Blue Clubs at the Amway Arena.
q: Your biggest accomplishment since graduating, outside your career?
a: Over the summer, I went to Ireland on an extreme sports trip; we did things like parasailing and mountain climbing. Riding on that high, I'm gearing up for Disney's Princess Half Marathon on March 7, 2010. One of my best friends, Natasha Durand, has battled eight different kinds of cancers since the age of two. My greatest accomplishment will be raising $2100 and completing 13.1 miles to cross the finish line in her honor.
q: Outside work...you're most likely to be seen?
a: At NASCAR Sports Grille at CityWalk, where I'm an event coordinator. I could also be training for my marathon or relaxing in places like the Vines Grille & Wine Bar, Tavern on the Lake or Tessa Ultra Lounge.
q: How did UCF prepare you for what you do?
a: It taught me the terminology of my industry and led me beyond a hospitality job to a career. I was working as a front desk concierge on International Drive and was unfulfilled. I went for a campus tour and Lori Ashby inspired me to enroll in classes on-the-spot. Rosen is like family. Vivian Ray, Dr. H.G. Parsa, and Dr. Sandra Naipaul, among others, challenged me. I never would have finished college if it weren't for Rosen being such a warm and welcoming place.
q: Your favorite class?
a: Quantity Food Production with Vivian Ray. Through the "Distinguished Chef's Series," we students ran a restaurant open to the public on certain evenings. I became restaurant manager and hostess, which was an incredible experience.
q: How could the hospitality program have been better?
a: Expand the Distinguished Chef's Series into a restaurant on the Rosen campus, open full-time to the public. You don't see the overall picture working as a server in a restaurant - like what the chef goes through when the wrong type of chicken is ordered. Also, real-life restaurants have specific price points and menus so attract a consistent demographic. Working in the campus restaurant gave us the unique experience of dealing with all ages and types of people.
q: A UCF memory?
a: Planning and executing a luncheon for Meeting Professionals International members, as part of Elise Enloe's Event Management class.
q: Favorite meal in Orlando?
a: Seafood at Seasons 52 or the Vines.
q: On your iPod?
a: Country, Hip Hop, R & B, Soul, Rock and Alternative Rock; everything but Punk Rock or Heavy Metal.
q: Little known fact about you?
a: I've had a rescue dog named Lady for two and a half years. She's part lab and part beagle, and was living with an abusive family before I adopted her.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Julie Noda '05




Owner and CEO,
Something Borrowed Weddings & Events

q: What do you do?
a: I'm a full-service wedding consultant - handling all of the details from "I will" to "I do." After having managed events at the Orange County Regional History Center and the Ritz-Carlton Orlando, it's a pleasure to be on the opposite end, representing the client. I problem-solve to get everything done according to the bride's plan. My job is to put out fires before they happen, making sure everyone can relax and enjoy the big day!
q: What's your favorite part of the job?
a: I get to be there for someone's special day. It feels like I'm part of their family for a day and it's a truly rewarding experience.
q: What's the greatest challenge?
a: Adapting to different personalities.
q: Do you stay in touch with any other UCF hospitality alums?
a: Brittany Andrews '08, Holly Steinebronn '07, Kim Hawkes '07, Jason Ring '07, Adam Bailey '05, Rachael Vogel '05 and Rachel Perez '07.
q: Outside work...you're most likely to be seen?
a: I love to cook, so in the kitchen or at the Farmer's Market. I'm even going to the Food and Wine Festival in Miami. I also could be Downtown having brunch with friends.
q: Your biggest accomplishment since graduating, outside your career?
a: Being my own boss and setting my own rules.
q: How did UCF prepare you for what you do?
a: My internship at The History Center set me on the path to meeting the right people. I got keyed into the industry and involved in organizations like NACE, ISES and ABC.
q: Your favorite class?
a: Hospitality Law with Rosemary Krebs was interesting and engaging. Catering Management with Kim Severt was hands-on, so most helpful to what I do every day. We learned the details of running an event, like table settings.
q: How could the hospitality program have been better?
a: More hands-on experience; instead of mock events in a controlled environment, the students should be working on more real-life events. The first time you tell a client they're in attrition, that's experience. Also, the guest speakers were older and very established in their careers. A mentor program with alumni who are just a few years out of school would be helpful, to help set realistic career expectations.
q: A UCF memory?
a: Roadtrips and, of course, football. Even now we're season ticket holders. It's fun to see how everything's grown with the new stadium and the hospitality program too. When I did my orientation as a Hospitality major, it was just me and one other student.
q: Favorite meal in Orlando?
a: The Super Crunch Roll at Amura.
q: On your iPod?
a: Anything but Rock. Happy, upbeat music - songs where you can understand the words, that have a good beat.
q: Little known fact about you?
a: I fell down the stairs of the stage after receiving my high school diploma. Thankfully my UCF graduation went well and so has everything since.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Tawanna Frazier '08



Catering and Convention Services,
The Peabody Orlando

q: What do you do?

a: Help manage the Food and Beverage, meeting space and special requests of groups at The Peabody Orlando. This includes city-wide conventions and social events. Since our $420 million expansion nearly complete, we're attracting new kinds of groups including proms.
q: What's your favorite part of the job?
a: Working with groups for special events; for instance, the players in the Citrus Bowl and Champ Bowl stayed here.
q: What's the greatest challenge?

a: Juggling school and work. If all goes well, I'll graduate with a Master's in Hospitality and Tourism Management from UCF in December.
q: Do you stay in touch with any other UCF hospitality alums?
a: Megan Oxman '06 who works with me at The Peabody, Nate Nakamura '06, Jennifer Reynolds '09, Holly Steinebronn '07 and Jennifer Sandler Rosenthal '06.
q: Outside work...you're most likely to be seen?
a: At a UCF football game. Even when I had to study, I took my books tailgating with me.
q: Your biggest accomplishment since graduating, outside your career?
a: Being elected to serve as an officer for the Rosen College chapter of the UCF Alumni Association.
q: How did UCF prepare you for what you do?
a: The classes were exactly what I needed to be successful in my job, particularly the Event Management and Hospitality Finance courses.
q: Your favorite class?
a: Catering Management with Vivian Ray. It taught me what it takes to operate under pressure. Our class catered for the Zora Neale Hurston Festival in Eatonville, a three-day outdoor event. It was like being in the Boy Scouts because we had to cook without electricity. For instance, we had planned on smoothies for part of the menu but there wasn't anywhere to hook up our machine. It taught us to be resourceful and improvise.
q: How could the hospitality program have been better?
a:  The whole experience was perfect - maybe just a few more real-world projects like I just described.
q: A UCF memory?
a: The activities at Rosen College every Wednesday, sponsored by UCF Student Life. There would be something different every week on the Rosen campus, from making candles to Build-a-Bear.
q: Favorite meal in Orlando?
a: Crispy Spicy Beef at The Cheesecake Factory.
q: On your iPod?
a: Gospel, Pop, Rap and Rock.
q: Little known fact about you?
a: I'm afraid to sleep in the dark. I have a night light.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Amanda Maytrott '03

General Manager,
Capistrano Surfside Inn


q: What do you do?
a: Manage a 37-unit timeshare property across the street from the Pacific Ocean, centrally located between San Diego and Los Angeles. When you step into a smaller property you'd think it would be easy, but I'm a one-person show. I do the payroll, hiring, firing and even front desk shifts as needed. Thankfully Vacation Resorts International (VRI) is a very good management company.
q: What's your favorite part of the job?
a: There's an ocean view from the front desk! The guests are always in a really good mood. They want to be here. I enjoy dealing with the customers who are on vacation. Many of the guests are charter owners from when the resort was built in 1985. About 90% of the "regulars" live within a two hour radius and stay here in June, July and August. During the rest of the year, I meet new people who are exchanging their timeshares from other locations.
q: What's the greatest challenge?
a: Employee relations. Dealing with guests is easy. The employees don't have to like each other, but need to be professional and show respect for one another.
q: Outside work...you're most likely to be seen?
a: At the beach. After work, I watch the sunset. A new jogging trail was recently built along the ocean where I live in San Clemente. It's about six miles round trip; I like to run when the weather's warmer.
q: Your biggest accomplishment since graduating, outside your career?
a: Getting out of Florida. I was born and raised in Merritt Island. Friends and family keep asking if I'm going to move back, and I always say "no" - I like it here in California.
q: How did UCF prepare you for what you do?
a: It gave me a well-rounded education in hospitality. I started off at USF as a Studio Photography major and knew that wasn't what I wanted. At my UCF orientation, I heard a pitch for the new hospitality program. I had worked in restaurants and thought it was a great fit, and it was everything it promised.
q: Your favorite class?
a: Not Accounting! I had a lot of fun in Dr. Breiter's courses in convention and trade show management, even though I didn't end up in meeting planning as a career. Dr. Upchurch's timeshare course benefited me the most. When I first went to work at Vacation Resorts International, my boss handed me a timeshare resort operations book and said to read it. I told him that not only did I already read it as a textbook for class, but that it was written by my professor! 
q: How could the hospitality program have been better?
a: It needs to include more detailed training on employee conflict resolution. Guest Services Management and many of the other courses and internships focus on customer service for the guest, but as managers we need to know how to deal with staff.
q: A UCF memory?
a: Football! I came back to Florida last month to see UCF play in the St. Pete Bowl.
q: Favorite meal in Orlando?
a: Bahama Breeze. I wish we had them in California.
q: On your iPod?
a: The Beatles, The Pixies, Led Zeppelin, Beck, Sublime, Cream, Bob Marley, Rolling Stones, Less than Jake, Outkast, Norah Jones, Nirvana, Atmosphere and The Kinks.
q: Little known fact about you?
a: I'm a vegetarian. I wasn't able to eat a lot of what we made in Quantity Food Prep class. I remember Bob Ashley talking on and on about veal, and me rolling my eyes at him.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Rachel I. Levy '07

Convention Services Manager,
InterContinental Chicago O’Hare


q: What do you do?
a: I've managed events for 50-600 people in this luxury hotel since its September 2008 opening. I work with clients from various companies around the country and am lucky to have 53,000 square feet of brand new meeting space that co-exists in a contemporary art gallery. Whether it’s a small one-day meeting or a large five-day conference, I work with every department in the hotel to ensure each detail is completed to perfection - Banquet Event Orders, rooming list adjustments, VIP amenities, banner rigging, working with outside vendors for d├ęcor and event customization, and so much more.
q: What's your favorite part of the job?
a: The conference! So much time and preparation goes into planning mid-size conferences that when the actual program arrives, it’s a huge pay-off. Watching the attendees have a great experience at the convention is my job satisfaction. I love setting up general sessions in 8,000 square-foot ballrooms with extensive A/V, and organizing beautiful catering banquets with elegant buffets and presentation set-ups...and then seeing it all come to life.
q: What's the greatest challenge?
a: Working with our difficult economy. Many of the clients and companies are on tighter budgets than in previous years. This challenges me to think outside the box and create 5-star events on 3-star budgets. I’m regularly working on the development of innovative menu items and presentations to adjust to our economic reality.
q: Do you stay in touch with any other UCF hospitality alums?
a: Some Rosen friends that that I’ve kept in touch with that still live and work in Florida are Ryan Stiner '01 and Kelli Hadd '07. Others here in the Windy City are Jenna Borregine '07 and Sean Murphy '08.
q: Outside work...you're most likely to be seen?
a: When I have the time off, you can find me relaxing at home, at the movies or out trying new restaurants and bars in Chicago. I also enjoy traveling and visiting interesting places and hotels that I’ve never seen before. I’ll be spending two weeks in January traveling though the Middle East (Israel, Jordan and Egypt). The best part is staying at InterContinental Hotels around the world!
q: Your biggest accomplishment since graduating, outside your career?
a: Spending seven months living and working in Beijing, China. I had the fortunate opportunity to work overseas in the corporate hospitality industry. I spent my time managing sales and marketing projects in preparation for the 2008 Beijing Olympics in Wyndham’s Super 8 China corporate headquarters.
q: How did UCF prepare you for what you do?
a: When I first stepped foot on the Rosen Campus, I knew my life was going to change. Rosen filled me with the knowledge I needed to move forward in this industry. It also provided me unique opportunities to see the industry hands-on and relate with people who shared my passion.
q: How could the hospitality program have been better?
a: Practice with property management systems. For example, sales booking software such as Delphi Training or reservation systems such as OPERA. If students had the opportunity to learn these systems that are so widely accepted and used in our hotels and restaurants, we would have such an advantage when entering the real world.
q: A UCF memory?
a: Golden Knights Wine Society meetings that we hosted bi-weekly in the Anheuser-Busch Beer & Wine Lab. It was wonderful to learn in a technologically-advanced environment, with people who are capable of having fun and educational conversations about hospitality.
q: Favorite meal in Orlando?
a: Yellow Dog Eats Restaurant in Gotha. Simply delicious!
q: On your iPod?
a: I shuffle a little bit of everything. Right now I’m listening to the new Rhianna album.
q: Little known fact about you?
a: I love golf.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Jason Ring '07

Event Services Manager,
Hilton Orlando

q: What do you do?
a: I manage the convention floor while groups are in house. I ensure all meeting rooms and food functions are set to the clients' specifications. I’m described to the clients as an extension of all the departments in the hotel, so essentially I’m a one-stop-shop for the planner with any needs they may have while here.
q: What's your favorite part of the job?
a: I love being able to work closely with all the departments in the hotel. I’ve developed some great relationships with so many people and continually learn something new every day. I work with everyone from housekeeping to AV to the front office to the General Manager every day.
q: What's the greatest challenge?
a: I don’t actually plan any part of the meetings. Rather, I’m on the floor ensuring everything is executed flawlessly. With so many areas and meeting planners involved, it can become rather challenging trying to get everything done right while also learning about the program as you go. There’s only so much pre-work I can do on the program, so I’m constantly having to think on my feet and stay one step ahead of the group to make sure they get everything they need.
q: Do you stay in touch with any other UCF hospitality alums?
a: Yes! Julie Noda '05, Marissa Moore '07, John Brooks '07, Holly Steinebronn '07, Shannon Fleshman '07 and Valerie Teman '06.
q: Outside work...you're most likely to be seen?
a: In Downtown Orlando. Whether at a Wine Bar, a club, Farmers' Market or Sunday brunch, I LOVE Downtown Orlando!
q: Your biggest accomplishment since graduating, outside your career?
a: Skydiving and Bungee Jumping in New Zealand.
q: How did UCF prepare you for what you do?
a: Working with so many different personalities and having to figure out how to make those relationships work. I hated that we had so many team projects; however, looking back, it was the most valuable experience because it taught me to work with all types of people.
q: How could the hospitality program have been better?
a: I would have liked to see more hands-on experience and less textbook-style learning. I learned very quickly that "experiences" trump everything else in this industry, so the more Rosen can offer...the better.
q: A UCF memory?
a: I was nominated for Homecoming King in 2006 and that whole week was so amazing. The best part was driving onto the field for the last Homecoming at the Citrus Bowl. I was just so proud to be a Knight at that moment.
q: Favorite meal in Orlando?
a: BBQ Ribs at Houston's in Winter Park.
q: On your iPod?
a: A little of everything! Currently? LMFAO, Maroon 5, Rent, and Carrie Underwood…told you I was eclectic!
q: Little known fact about you?
a: I sang with a performance troupe at the White House for President Clinton’s Christmas party.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Kristina Martell '08

Associate Sales Representative,
Blue Man Group at Universal Orlando Resort


q: What do you do?
a: My job is to establish and maintain client relationships. I’m out visiting clients on a daily basis to ensure they have everything they need to sell Blue Man Group to guests visiting Orlando. I also communicate new initiatives and special offers to the front line employees who are selling our tickets
q: What's your favorite part of the job?
a: I enjoy being on the road. Being stuck in the office day after day just doesn’t appeal to me. I’m out there interacting with the clients and seeing sales firsthand.
q: What's the greatest challenge?
a: Trying to take a product that very rarely changes and keeping it top of mind for our clients can be difficult at times. My job is to keep the show exciting and fresh in everyone’s mind so that we aren’t lost amongst all of the fascinating attractions and activities that Central Florida has to offer.
q: Do you stay in touch with any other UCF hospitality alums?
a: I have reconnected with so many former classmates in the field and while attending networking events. You really never know who you’re going to bump into these days!
q: Outside work...you're most likely to be seen?
a: At a theme park or at the beach. I love all of the theme parks here in Orlando and I’m originally from New Smyrna Beach so I find myself making that 45 minute drive every chance I get.
q: Your biggest accomplishment since graduating, outside your career?
a: My networking skills are becoming one of my strengths. My job forces me to get out there and not only meet new people but build lasting relationships with them. I have been fortunate enough to be a member of industry associations and attend events on behalf of Blue Man Group to help build my network.
q: How did UCF prepare you for what you do?
a: The professors at Rosen not only teach you the required textbook basics, but also add real-life experiences and stories in their lectures.
q: How could the hospitality program have been better?
a: Practically every class required a group project which made it difficult to balance my time. It seemed like everyone in the program worked full time so often there were challenges with conflicting schedules.
q: A UCF memory?
a: One of my favorite classes was Food Prep. I thought I could handle myself in a kitchen prior to taking the class but I quickly realized that wasn’t the case. I’m proud to say I have retained most of the information and have even taught a few of my friends how to properly julienne a carrot.
q: Favorite meal in Orlando?
a: There are so many fabulous restaurants in Orlando that it’s hard to choose! Some of my favorites include The Kitchen at Hard Rock Hotel, The Melting Pot, Capital Grille and Cheesecake Factory.
q: On your iPod?
a: I listen to a variety of music...anything from Brad Paisley to Dave Matthews to Rihanna.
q: Little known fact about you?
a: I collect John Deere memorabilia. What can I say? I’m a Southern girl at heart!