Finding the Right Fit
Life as a Hospitality Student
Growing up in Seoul, South Korea, I never really cared for extracurricular activities, sports never seemed that exciting and Model United Nations was simply not for me. Around the age of 12 or 13, I baked my first cake and realized how much I enjoyed cooking—and especially baking.
For years, I dreamed of attending culinary school and yet I ended up at Smith College, studying completely different interests: architecture and art history. As much as I enjoyed these studies, after three years I made the decision to take a year off to pursue my culinary passion.
As I was concluding my search of which culinary institute to attend, I was torn between the Institute of Culinary Education and one other school. The opportunity to study in New York City played an important role in my decision, but ultimately I selected ICE because of the faculty and staff.
During my entire application process, I was overseas and traveling which meant that getting in contact with the admissions staff was especially difficult. Despite all the missed calls and awful time differences, I was able to work through it with ICE admissions representative Ron Toomer, who made the process so simple from beginning to end.
Hospitality wasn’t originally what I planned to study. Initially, I was interested in the School of Pastry and Baking Arts, but as much as I loved cooking and baking, I knew I wasn't passionate about spending the rest of my life working as a pastry chef. I was looking for a way to be around food, but realized I would rather manage an establishment than be in the kitchen. That's when I learned about ICE's Hospitality Management program.
At first, I worried that Hospitality Management wouldn't be as exciting as a hands-on culinary program. Yet just weeks into the program, both Plemmie Lawson, instructor for our human resources course, and Tom Voss, the dean of the School of Hospitality Management, have blown me away with their enthusiasm for the material. I know this year will not be filled with boring lectures.
Moreover, I know that this program will enable me to work in so many different industries, including restaurants and casinos. The program wastes no time introducing students to guest speakers. The first person to visit our class was Matthew Dempsey, the general manager at The Bowery House, a boutique hostel in a trendy location. Complemented by the robust and interesting history of the Bowery, the hostel is ideal for visitors who’d like an affordable place to stay in one of the most popular neighborhoods in New York City.
One phrase Dempsey mentioned that stuck was the term “ECHO,” which stands for “Every Contact Has Opportunity.” His advice was to be ready—keep up with current events, be ready to have any sort of conversation, be hospitable, listen to the guests and anticipate their needs.
On the other end of the spectrum, we met with the concierge and the senior catering director from the luxurious Palace Hotel. Their presentation gave our class a better understanding of the managerial aspects of hospitality: how to motivate your employees with the right incentives, maintain and create genuine professional relationships and develop a sense of teamwork within the workplace.
Just two months into the program, I know this is just a small taste of the interesting lectures that are to come. One theme that has remained with every speaker who has visited our class is that to work in this industry you must have a passion for what you do and you have to be willing to go above and beyond what is asked. It’s a steep road to becoming successful in hospitality—but if you enjoy your work, it’s a thoroughly rewarding journey to the top.
Click here to receive free information about ICE’s Hospitality Management program.