Anissa Garcia is a 2017 IFMA Education Foundation scholarship recipient. She attends Cal Poly Pomona and is majoring in Hospitality Management. Find out what she had to say when we asked her a few questions about her foodservice scholarship and future career.
What is your major & what made you decide on it?
My major is Hospitality Management and I decided on it during my first quarter at Cal Poly Pomona. I was admitted into Cal Poly as a business major but I soon realized that I that I wanted to switch my major because the hospitality management program at Cal Poly is so hands-on and offers their students knowledge that will help them grow their futures and follow their dreams. I strongly believe that I would be a very different person If I had stayed in business. The hospitality program at Cal Poly Pomona offers resources and opportunities that I would not have found anywhere else and I am very grateful to have had these wonderful experiences.
How has your scholarship enabled you to pursue a career in foodservice?
My scholarship will take a huge amount of financial pressure off me during the rest of the year. Not only will this scholarship pay my tuition in its entirety for my last quarter of college but it will also allow me to move to Portland, Oregon after I graduate so that I can begin my dream job. Without this scholarship I would have spent my last few months of college stressing about every penny and not being able to enjoy the last moments at the college that has given me so much.
What was your first job in foodservice?
My first job in food service was working as a hostess in a small Japanese restaurant near my house. I worked there around 2 years and learned how to do just about every job there. I was promoted fairly quickly to busser/server assistant but also was responsible for for training all of the new hostesses. Due to this restaurant being small, I got an opportunity to learn and try new things without any hesitation from management. While I was a server assistant, the servers would teach me how to use the POS system and let me take tables of my own. Naturally, I was soon promoted to a server and stayed as a server until I moved on to my next job.
What would you say is your "dream job" after you graduate?
After I graduate I am set to be a part of Hilton's Management Development Program working as an event planner out of Portland, Oregon. I can easily say that this was my dream job and I am so excited to have an opportunity to follow my dreams.
What have you learned that you will apply to a career in foodservice?
Cal Poly Pomona has one the best Hospitality programs in the nation. With that being said, I learn things every day that I can apply to careers in the industry. Currently I am enrolled in a class where students manage a full service, fine dining restaurant that is open to the public. This class expands over two quarters, the first quarter is where we develop our management plans and the second quarter we are working inside the restaurant an implementing our management plans. Each group spends one week as the manager of the restaurant and the other weeks we spend rotating between different front of the house and back of house positions. Everything I learn from this class can easily be applied to every food service career.
What are some of the challenges students like you face in today's world of foodservice?
I think a challenge in the food service industry is being labeled as front of the house or back of the house person before you are given a chance to explore both sides. I strongly believe that because they are so closely intertwined a manger should have experience in both areas. I have strictly been a Front of House person and never thought I would have any interest in Back of House operations until I began taking my class that is based in the restaurant and it forced me to try Back of House positions and I quickly learned how beneficial it is to have experience in both before labeling yourself as one or the other. After you choose which side of the house suits you best you can use the experience you have used to help make you better at your job.
Do you have mentor? How have they helped you?
I have had many mentors throughout my life and each one of them has offered me something different but equally important as the last. My mentors have taught me everything from confidence in myself, to how to succeed in different areas of the industry.
What is your favorite meal?
My favorite meal has both steak and lobster cooked to perfection and then a nice cheesy baked potato on the side.
What companies have you worked at for internships?
I have interned for Waverley Country Club in Portland Oregon as a food and beverage manager.
About the IFMA Education Foundation:
The IFMA Education Foundation promotes the next generation of foodservice leaders. The Foundation is committed to give qualified culinary, marketing or food science students support toward completion of education requirements. Over the years, we've accomplished our goal by providing scholarships, publications, educational programs, internships and stipends to accredited institutions and individuals enrolled in accredited institutions.
Do you want to support the next generation of foodservice by making a donation to IFMA's Education Foundation?
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.