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How I Ventured Into Hospitality

Film was my life. Or so I thought when I started my own film club in 5th grade at my elementary school. I’ve become so obsessed with film making, acting, directing, and all spheres of theatrical arts that I thought that this path was where I would wound up being.

I was wrong.

As I matured and passed my freshman core classes in high school, I started to realise how foolish it would be to spend almost $140,000+ on tuition just to get a piece of paper that proves my passion. Don’t get me wrong, I have huge respect for those who attended Tisch, Julliard, and other major performing arts program. I just couldn’t see myself in it.

So, I pondered, I researched, I brainstormed, and I talked to different people to figure what other interests I have. In hindsight, it was foolish to think that others would guide me on my own interests. I was very anxious of my plan for after graduation… until my dean, Fred Schneider, recommended I consider career in hotels as I was a “people person”.

I was seeking guidance from the student counselor on what career path I can look into, and Mr. Schneider overheard me asking what college I should look into. I remember that moment when he popped his head into the counselor’s office and simply said “Cornell” with a grin. At that time, I only knew Cornell as an Ivy League school with a big campus, famous only by its falls and hockey.

I asked, “Why Cornell?” Mr. Schneider than went over all the possible reasons why I should not only go to Cornell but also to the Hotel School that it was famously known for. Before this conversation, I didn’t know much about the Hotel School, even so that there is a college program dedicated towards hotel operations and hospitality. I suddenly became so intrigued by the program that I immediately dug deeper when I got home.

The web is a captivating place to be lost in and I found myself learning about the Statler Hotel, the Hotel Leadership Development Program, Establishment, the 800 Practice Credit Requirement, and the academic classes offered.

Mr. Schneider believes that if hospitality was something I should invest in, I should get hands-on experience in it. That summer before junior year, I interned at a buffet restaurant at Grand Hilton Seoul, a 300+ room property in downtown Seoul. Although it was an unpaid internship, I learned the hard work of service and hospitality through constant sweat, tears, and leftover bits.

I continued to expose myself to hospitality, specifically food and beverage. I worked as a waiter/bartender for a full-service Bulgarian restaurant in the middle of a tourist district in the summer before my senior year.

I realized that I never hated my shifts and was always excited to get to work. Mr. Schneider was right, I LOVED talking to people, even if talking was simply to take orders. I knew then that I must apply to the School of Hotel Administration and take my chances.

After my alum interview went poorly, I gave up on Cornell and looked into other business schools. If I can’t get into a hotel school, at least I can pursue that with a business major…

I received a small white envelope on March 4th. I was just coming back from school and was planning what to do for dinner as it was my mother’s birthday. Seeing that the envelope was from the Financial Aid office from Cornell, I assumed that it was another correspondence asking for my father’s financial and income status.

The elevator door opened and I stepped in. Pressed the button for the 28th floor while tearing open the envelope. Then I read the first word, “Congratulations!”

My heart stopped. And next thing I knew, I was celebrating with my family on such wonderful news. It was one of the happiest moments of my life. And that moment opened more doors for me to venture into hospitality. I'm almost done with my second year at Cornell and I can't imagine what the next two years will bring.

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