Speaking at Johnson & Wales University

I was given the opportunity to speak at Johnson & Wales University during the Alumni week and share my experiences in Hospitality and Sales & Marketing. It was incredible to be back at my old campus, see my professors and meet some of the earlier graduates of the University. Truly an honor to be the youngest Alumni chosen!

Below I am sharing some of the questions I was asked, my personal input and some pictures of the day!

(Alumni and JWU Staff during the luncheon. It was great to see everyone again!)

Where do you currently work, and what is your current position?

I work at Bramerix, a direct marketing partner of AT&T: I’m the COO of the company.

What did you do before your current position?

I started my career in event planning when I was in high school. I was a wedding coordinator for two years and when I moved to Miami to pursue my bachelors I started working at the Fontainebleau resort as a front office agent. I left that position after a year and started working at Acqualina Resort & Spa as a Guest Relations Manager. After working at this 5 stars resort I left and joined the Sales and Guest Relations department of the The World, a residential yacht. I realized that it was time to venture off and try something different, and that’s when Bramerix came about.

(Sofiya & I both graduated from JWU, worked at Acqualina Resort together and once more at The World! Such a blessing to be able to have a friend like her and experience this together!)

What was your experience like as a Johnson & Wales University student?

Incredible! I am so thankful to have had such a hands on experience at JWU. My job at the Fontainebleau was all thanks to Professor Ferreira who pushed me to do something I didn’t want to do. I was a freshman and really just wanted to enjoy Miami, not work full time plus do full time school. But he insisted that everyone in his class finished the trimester with a job, and that’s what happened. I’m thankful I listened to him and was able to learn in the classroom and be able to put everything in action at work.

Most of all I am thankful for the small classrooms and close relationship with the students and professors. The attention and help that I received from my professors was unlike anything I’ve heard from other students and I believe that really helped me get to where I am today.

What are some things today’s students can do to prepare for a successful career in the field?

Get started as soon as you can. It’s so important to know exactly where your calling is. My freshman year was when I learned that I didn’t love the front office, but knew that I did love dealing with people. Finding your passion is extremely at an early age will help you in the long run when you graduate and already know exactly what you want to do and have the experience to back you up when looking for that job post graduation.

What are some of the best professional development opportunities for young graduates?

Network, network, network! The best thing you can do is network with those around you at school, speak to your professors and show them that you are interested in learning as much as possible in the classroom but also in the work environment. Don’t be afraid to ask for their help or recommendation. Young graduates need to put themselves out there.

Why do you think a college degree is important for professionals seeking careers in this field?

I think a degree is extremely important. I have used everything that I’ve learned at JWU while in my work environment. My advice would be to do it simultaneously, that really allows you to understand what you are being taught in the classroom. I also think a college degree is important because regardless of your major you will always learn transferable skills. That’s the most valuable part, you can use those skills in any type of career path you go.

What are some of the latest trends you’re seeing in your field that you think students should be aware of?

Even though I’m no longer in the hospitality field, I believe hospitality is in everything we do. Being in sales & marketing, I still cater to my clients. A latest trend that I’m seeing is that even though technology continues to evolve, people still want that face to face contact. Be personable, that will take you far in any career.

Tell us about a memorable project you worked on recently.

Starting Bramerix with my family has been the biggest project of my life. It’s a business that is growing rapidly and there is so much more as an owner that I have to deal with that I wouldn’t even imagine. I think what’s interesting to me is that even though it’s a different career path, I still use all of my hospitality skills each day!

What do you know now as a professional that you wish you would have known as a college student?

You will absolutely use everything that you are learning in college out in the work environment and that having a good relationship with everyone will always be helpful when applying for jobs.

(Ughhhh,,, when you sit for too long and your dress is wrinkled!)

What is your passion?

My passion is to help others. Being in the hospitality field or in sales & marketing I always want to ensure my customer is happy with the product and that we are able to exceed their expectations. My other passion will always be event planning and producing. I chose to not do it as a career but, I found a way to add it to my life. I produce the church services at VOUS Church here in Miami which is amazing and fulfilling. I love that I get to do something I’m passionate about every Sunday.

What do you hope to be doing in 10 years? How do you plan to get there?

Presently we’re expanding our offices, in 10 years my goal is to have 20 offices throughout the US. That is not a fast grow as we’re opening our 3rd office in a matter of one year, but it’s a healthy grow. I plan to be able to expand into different types of marketing campaigns as well and find ways to continuously improve our service. Another goal of mine is continue to share my career experiences with young professionals as this is something I valued as a college student.

What is a HR recommendation you have for those applying for jobs? 

My first recommendation is to be prepared for the interview, do your research on the company and the job you are applying for, dress appropriately and bring copies of your resume to the interview. I also recommend not going over one page on your resume, make sure it is short and sweet and that you can elaborate on your experiences.

One of my favorite questions to ask during interviews is “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”. This really shows the employer your character, do you set goals for yourself, are you determined? It’s a great way to get to know someone with a simple question. Another recommendation would be to think of other ways to promote yourself instead of just sending in a resume. If you are going for a creative job, then show your creativity. How about doing a video instead of a regular on paper resume? No matter what you decide to do I believe the most important thing is to show who you are and why they should choose you.

(Received an Alumni certificate! yay!)

Special Thank You to JWU for the invite! Hope to be back in the near future!

Dream Big,

-V

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