JWU Student Blogs

Marriott Leadership Conference Teaches Insight & Confidence

In just a few months, Taylor is on her way to a full-time management position with The Ritz-Carlton, Philadelphia. Her recent trip to Florida for a Marriott Leadership Conference instilled her with the confidence that she found a career with a company that shares her core values.

On January 3-6four Johnson & Wales University students, including myself,  attended the 20th annual Marriott Student Leadership Conference in Naples, Florida. While it was nice to take a moment to enjoy the warm 85-degree weather and take Snapchats to brag about the amazing company we will soon work for before we returned to snowstorms, this trip was about more than that: It was a chance to learn about and reflect upon our own personal leadership skills.

All 99 attendees of the 2017 Marriott Student Leadership Conference after our beach team-building and leadership skills beach workshops at the Ritz-Carlton, Naples.

The conference included speakers giving inspirational advice, such as  Dr. Jeff Thompson from PEAK Learning Inc. and hospitality-leader, Ed Staros. Dr. Jeff Thompson provided attendees with self-reflection assessments that we could use to look at our current abilities to deal with adversity in our lives, as well as how open we are to diversity. These self-assessments gave us an idea of where we stood. After a large group discussion, many of us left with an idea on how to improve these ever-important skills before we begin our careers.

Dr. Jeff Thompson of PEAK Learning speaking to the conference attendees.

My personal favorite activity from Dr. Thompson was called “The Real Deal." During this activity, we used a deck of cards to determine what means the most to us in our jobs. Narrowing it down to the 5 most-important qualities of a job was  valuable and difficult. I started to see the relation between the adjectives I chose and those that my peers chose in comparison to the brands we have obtained jobs in.

Out of the 99 students in the room, there was a common theme: Almost every student mentioned, in one way or another, that a positive work environment was of utmost importance to them. It was then that I realized that a tool like this is something we should all be using in our lives whether it is when we are seeking jobs, working to understand our fellow colleagues or making hiring decisions. It was then that I really began to understand how well the Marriott University Relations Team has done in placing many of us in brands and places where we feel we belong.

During this conference I also began to understand just how important it is to pick a company that reflects your own needs and values. I have always loved being a guest at Marriott and when I became a hospitality student, I sought to work for Marriott because of my passion for the company and the values the company holds.

My go-to JWU career advisors, Kara LaBelle and Shaun Crank of Experiential Education & Career Services have always expressed to me the importance of working for a company whose values reflect your own. No matter which brand any of my peers end up in we will all work to provide those around us with a positive work environment. To me, that is extremely powerful. Knowing that I am joining a company where those around me will care about creating a positive work environment makes me happy. 

Looking back and reflecting on this conference during my flight back home, I discovered a few things I would like to share with my readers, whether you are a freshman or a junior.

  • I would like you to go and seek out companies with values that you connect with and while you are researching them, you feel a need and a passion to work for such a company.
  • Find that company and try to get a job or internship with them.
  • If you have any opportunities to attend a leadership seminar, conference or workshop, take the leap and do it…you never know what you may learn and how you may grow.
  • Most importantly, my message to you is to go after your goals no matter how lofty and continue to work as hard as you can to get there.
Taylor is so thrilled to start her real-life journey at The Ritz-Carlton in Philadelphia, but first, she's going to squeeze every drop out of her senior year!
Topics: Careers Hospitality