Life After College: Expect the Unexpected, Say 3 UCF Grads
Graduate. Get a job. Get promoted. Climb the ladder. Succeed. That’s what most students think life after college is all about. Three alumnae recently spoke to Dr. Wilfried Iskat’s Introduction to Lodging class at Rosen College about the unexpected curves and swerves that come after graduation and how to make the most of the journey.
Jamie Realander, ’11, Kate Thomas, ’05 and Jennifer Garcia, ’09 all traveled unconventional paths to their current jobs, but found that their experiences helped them realize their true potential and discover their professional passions.
Realander is a conference center sales manager for the Rosen Plaza Hotel in Orlando and although she just graduated in 2011, is already a veteran employee of the company. Realander started working for Rosen Hotels & Resorts in February 2006 and rotated through multiple positions learning hotel operations. Then in June 2011, she took an opportunity to work for the new JW Marriott in Indianapolis. Personal matters led her to return to Orlando and the company she refers to as “family.”
Realander hopes the future holds the opportunity to open her own boutique hotel and credits Rosen College for guiding her in the right direction to someday realize that goal. She encourages students to make the most of their time before graduation.
“Life after Rosen has drastically changed and I am not quite sure how I juggled school and a full-time career before,” Realander said. “Take advantage of every opportunity and be sure to get your name out there. There is something to be learned in every experience. You may not realize it at the time, but hindsight is 20/20.”
Thomas, a marketing manager for the Hyatt Regency Orlando, found herself doing work she never expected on her way to her current position, including human resources, revenue management, digital media and e-mail marketing. Thomas stressed the importance of volunteering for projects and trying new things, despite lacking prior education and training, in order to continuously learn and provide value to your employer.
“My life after Rosen has been unpredictable as far as a career path goes,” Thomas said. “What was predictable is that I graduated with the skills and work ethic to make a-go of anything I pursued. Every experience counts, no matter what the job, volunteer experience or interaction – it will teach you something.”
Garcia says Rosen College taught her to dream big and reminded students to believe they can achieve their goals even if they can’t see a straight path to success. Garcia currently works for the Florida Panthers hockey team as a client management specialist, but infiltrating the sports industry proved difficult despite her persistence. With aspirations to become the senior vice president of events for the NFL and produce the Super Bowl, she encourages students to prepare for professional rejection, no matter how focused or accomplished they are while pursuing their degrees.
“Life after Rosen was eye opening,” Garcia said. “No matter how strategic your internships or how many hands you shake in college, there comes a time where you lose the ‘help me and hire me because I’m a student’ umbrella. My advice would be to prepare yourself for rejection because it makes it easier to power through. You learn the true value of resiliency and you become hungrier and hungrier to land the next interview.”