Monday, July 8, 2013

Service Above Self

Last night, I ended up staying up a little later than I anticipated because my hall mate needed some help with her report. Little did I know, this ended up tying in with today's lesson. It was all about if you were willing to help and how far you'd go to help someone. We watched an episode of It's a Living. The show shadowed the service at New York's Waldorf Astoria. The doorman was amazingly outgoing and the kitchen was able to produce thousands of meals in a short amount of time. And even more amazingly, there was a concierge who could do anything. He could book you a reservation at an full restaurant or find you an ultra rare skin cream. He went above and beyond by calling multiple places and personally looking for the cream in the city. I couldn't even believe the challenges the hotel's employees were able to overcome. I envied these qualities that they demonstrated.

Our first two guests, Ilana and Greg, joined us after a brief break. Ilana is a manager at Ithaca's Inn and Suites and Greg is the manager of food and beverage at the Statler Hotel. They told us about how they got into the business and what they do, but they both emphasized the same thing: always provide the best service. Don't make your guests wait and don't argue with a guest even if they're wrong. In the hospitality industry, the customers are your number one priority. An interesting fact about the two is that they actually work at two completely different hotels. Ilana works at a limited service hotel which doesn't pay too much while the Statler pays its staff over twice the amount of minimum wage and functions as a full service hotel. I learned that even though they both graduated from Cornell, they didn't get the best jobs right after graduation. They still had to work their way up.

Before our next speakers showed up, we talked about reports. This discussion made me slightly upset with my class because they didn't apply anything about thinking about others before yourself. A lot of students raised their hands and said that they didn't like Reneta's template for us because they felt that they worked hard on their own. In reality, almost everyone worked hard and everyone must have submitted their first copy having thought it was A worthy. From my perspective, our reports probably weren't what Reneta and Mark were looking for or they weren't as good as we thought. I saw Reneta's template as a second chance and experience to produce our own creation in the upcoming group report. Rather than appreciating that Reneta and Mark spent their anniversary weekend trying to help us, they only thought of themselves. It's kind of scary because we have a hospitality class, yet the majority of the class didn't have the correct mindset.

Next, a Statler Hotel Admissions team came to visit us. They told us some general admission details to Cornell and more specific details about the hotel school. Cornell's Hotel School offers:

  1. A double degree with Culinary Institute America
  2. Many job opportunities within Statler and other hospitality businesses
  3. Leadership conferences
  4. The option to minor in a different school and much more
If you're interested in applying to Cornell, you will be a competitive candidate if:
  1. You have work experience
  2. You have a strong common app
  3. You do well in your interview with a hotelie 
  4. And involve yourself in a variety of activities consistently
The presentation went a little long, but it was extremely helpful. We were scheduled to tour the Statler Hotel right after. Being in the first group, our guides didn't get to see how long each section would take. My first tour was a food and beverage tour with the bar manager. He showed my group the different restaurants, kitchens, banquet halls, and conference rooms. I've been to the Statler once, but I didn't get to see all of these different parts. I noticed that the Statler constantly posted fliers that reminded employees of the hotel's principles. There were different sized rooms for every occasion except for affairs involving more that 260 people. As we walked around the red building exposed by large windows, we realized it was time to switch groups. Unfortunately, we ran way behind schedule so we had to decide to continue or go back and finish our reports. I really wanted to explore more, but I knew the report was more important.

Today I had to do a lot of self reflection and switched perspectives. Did I show any qualities that I admired in the Waldorf Astoria's employees? If not, what could I do to incorporate those qualities into my mindset? I came to the conclusion that I did not have a lot of those qualities, but I could continue to explore and push myself. I thought to myself how I would have reacted if 80 students were telling me that I somehow disregarded their hard work. This helped me see the work that our professors have put in as opposed to the work we did. I was able to appreciate their efforts instead of seeing the situation in a negative light. I gained more knowledge of college admissions processes and prioritization. And even with this said, I have to give a big thanks to everyone who's helped me think about situations this way. My Interact club's motto "service above self" will forever stick to me and help me even if I don't get into the hospitality industry. 

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