From Hospitality Calling to Front Desk
With experience in many departments at Marriott, ICE alum Uri Nemirovsky recommends starting out at the nucleus of a hotel.
Front desk supervisor Uri Nemirovsky (Hospitality, ’17) meets high-stress situations with a positive mindset. In two-and-a-half years with Marriott International, he still finds something new in each day of work.
How did you become interested in hospitality?
I’ve always had a calling; I’m good with helping people and creating a good experience, and I’m interested in meeting different kinds of people and being able to handle stressful situations in a very positive way. So I’ve always been interested in hotels, working with a team and creating a high level of experience that’s part of the hospitality mindset.
When I looked into making this calling a career, I found the Institute of Culinary Education’s Hospitality & Hotel Management program. I went for my tour of the school and learned a lot more, and it seemed like the right fit for me. So that’s how I got started.
What were your most valuable experiences at ICE?
The big thing that lured me in was the fact that all my teachers were still working in the industry or had a lot of experience in hospitality before retiring. It was very good to know that I would have hands-on learning from people in the industry that had been in my shoes. I was just starting off and they gave me pointers and guidance to be able to succeed.
About three months in to studying at ICE, I got a full-time job at Marriott. It was awesome to be able to learn as I was working. At the end of the program, I did my externship at the hotel where I was already working and got experience in various departments. I was working at the front desk, and I shadowed in the engineering, housekeeping, and food and beverage departments. I worked banquets and catering, and got a really good feel for all the departments in the hotel. It was definitely an amazing experience and ICE helped me get to that point.
How did you end up in the front desk department?
It was the department I started with, so I wanted to grow here first. The front desk is the nucleus of a hotel, so I’m seeing things from all departments. I definitely want to grow in other departments and see where that goes in the future, but right now, the front desk is where I’m getting experience everywhere in the hotel. When I’m the manager on duty, I supervise all of the front desk agents and basically take care of any ongoing issues with guests or rooms, then communicate things out to different departments. I take on a little more responsibility everyday and am held accountable for certain things. Training new hires is another responsibility. I want to make my team comfortable in a very high-stress job. I teach them the system but also how to deal with guests, make personal connections and fully immerse in this environment.
What’s it like to work for Marriott?
It’s an amazing company. Marriott has really good benefits; it’s the largest hotel group in the world. So when guests come in, they know what to expect. Marriott’s known for being a good, dependable hotel group. If employees want to travel, Marriott has very good hotel discounts. My property is franchised, so there are a lot of opportunities to grow with the management company’s portfolio, plus Marriott’s 6,500 hotels and 30 brands. Once you’ve been a manager for a little while, you can go to different hotels and help out for a couple weeks in what’s called a task force. It’s definitely a great hotel company to work for.
What do you love about the industry?
Every day is something new. You never know what to expect, and to me, that’s the best. I get bored very easily and could never sit at a desk and crunch numbers. I love being able to come in and expect anything to happen whether good or bad. I just come in with the mindset that I’m going to seize the day. Meeting different people and providing a high-level experience is very rewarding. Guests really appreciate all the hard work that you put in.
What’s your advice for hospitality students?
Every department is important, but for someone starting a career in hotels, I would definitely recommend starting at the front desk. You get to see everything. You learn how to work with other departments and it’s like one big family. Once you learn how to deal with different personalities and different people, it’s all very cohesive and it’s amazing when you see that level of teamwork.
It is very high stress with a lot of volume, but it’s a very enjoyable job. If you have a positive mindset, it can be amazing. I love making personal connections with guests. Someone might come from a long day at work and a personal connection can help that guest unwind and relax. Some people might come into a hotel to check in while in the worst mood ever, but positivity at the front desk can change their outlook. Making their day a little better is definitely super rewarding.
Come in with an open mind and don’t worry too much; everything is going to work out the way that it should. Every day is going to be something new. Keep that positive mindset and learn and everything will fall into place.
Why should aspiring hospitality professionals choose ICE?
ICE does a very good job of teaching you everything. You’ll not only learn about hospitality in the sense of the guest and service; you learn about revenue, housekeeping and human resources from people that are in the industry right now. The instructors have the experience to shed that light and give you opportunities to be really good at your job once you get into it. That is one of the most valuable things that ICE has to offer. I would recommend ICE to anybody that wants to go into hospitality.
Follow your hospitality calling at ICE's New York campus.