Connie Chan is a 2016 IFMA Education Foundation scholarship recipient. She attends Cal Poly Pomona and is majoring in Hospitality. 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?
When I started college, I felt pretty lost because I wasn’t sure how to pursue my dreams. With goals of becoming a pastry chef, restaurant manager, or event planner, I was ecstatic when I stumbled upon a bulletin board describing what majoring in Hospitality can do. The Hospitality major covered everything I ever wanted to pursue as a career, so it was the perfect major for me.
How has your scholarship enabled you to pursue a career in foodservice?
The scholarship will help me pursue a career in foodservice because it will allow me to spend more time on my studies. I am currently working three jobs while attending school full-time, so cutting my hours at work a bit will definitely help. My financial aid no longer covers my entire tuition, so I was very stressed at the beginning of the school year when I had to figure out how to pay for it. So, I am so grateful for this scholarship because it will allow me to pursue my dreams!
What was your first job in foodservice?
My first job in foodservice was right after high school, and I worked at a teahouse. My job description included being a barista, cashier, and cook. I learned a lot about customer service and being a great employee from this job.
What would you say is your "dream job" after you graduate?
My dream job after I graduate is to work in the Food and Beverage department for Hilton Worldwide. I have actually accepted a position with Hilton as a Management Development Program Trainee in their Food and Beverage department.
What have you learned that you will apply to a career in foodservice?
I have already noticed that a lot of what I have learned in school is directly applicable in the foodservice industry. Becoming ServSafe certified is a so important in the industry because it is important to handle food correctly. Everything that I have learned in the Food and Beverage series can be applied to my career in the industry. The most important lesson I have learned from school is the importance of communication. Communication is essential to the industry because there are so many different factors going into play in one restaurant or hotel and keeping everyone on the same page will make the work environment more efficient and will reduce errors.
What are some of the challenges students like you face in today's world of foodservice?
I think one of the challenges students face in today’s world of foodservice is that there are endless possibilities of careers they can pursue. Students today go directly to college and while many have jobs in addition to school, some do not have a lot of work experience. Cal Poly Pomona does an amazing job at ensuring that their students get the hands on experience by requiring work experience hours and having courses like the Food and Beverage series. By giving students the opportunity to experience the life of manager, it can help them decide whether or not that job suits them. So the challenge that many students face is jumping into a career without knowing if that job is right for them.
Do you have mentor? How have they helped you?
I am a student assistant at the Restaurant at Kellogg Ranch, which is an on campus student-run restaurant. The restaurant is basically a laboratory class for the Food and Beverage series at Cal Poly Pomona. There are two instructors that I assist, who are my mentors, and they have helped me immensely. Before taking the class, I was very shy and had very little confidence in myself. With their guidance, I have broken out of my shell and am now able to train other students. They have helped me become more of a leader and have helped me believe in myself more.
What is your favorite meal?
My favorite meal would probably Chicken Enchiladas with Verde Sauce!
What companies have you worked at for internships?
I have worked for Hilton Worldwide as a Food and Beverage Property Intern.
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.