Stout Alumni Where Are They Now: Kayla Brice, HRTM Major

1. Your name, where you're from, where you are now, when you graduated Stout and your graduating major.

Kayla Brice - from Brillion, WI and currently living in Osceola, WI and working in Oakdale, MN. I graduated in December 2012 with a degree in Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management.

2. What about your major made you choose this pathway?

I love working with the customer. When I was growing up my family would sometimes stay in hotels on special occasions. It would be a major treat for my brothers and me. We would be so excited to get to go swimming and have pizza delivered to our room. I wanted to go into an industry where I could create an atmosphere where I could help other families do the same.

3. Did you graduate with a job already lined up? How did you land this job?

I did have a job lined up before I had graduated. I had met this company, CSM Corporation, at the Career Conference at Stout. They had a manager in training program and I had decided to interview for that position. They have hotels all around the Twin Cities area as well as the rest of the country. Their corporate office is located in Minneapolis. So it was a great learning experience of working in operations but also having a lot of contact with the corporate office 

4. Have you stayed with this job/company? If not, where have you gone since then? What made you go somewhere else? If yes, why have you stayed with them?

I have moved on from my first company. After my manager in training program I was offered a job as the assistant housekeeping manager with CSM Corporation. However after about eight months I decided that I was ready to take a next step forward and find a job as the head of the department instead of the assistant. I now have a job with FHG Hospitality as the director of housekeeping.

5. Why did this company hire you? What did you have/say/do to make you shine above the rest?

I think what set me apart from the rest of the candidates was the fact that I had done many internships throughout my time at Stout. Out of my four summers while attending stout, I spent 3 of them completing internships in all different sectors of hospitality. By the time I had graduated, I had experience in the food and beverage, housekeeping, front desk, and sales. I think the fact that I had a well-rounded experience as well as a degree in hospitality set me apart from other candidates applying for the same position. Also, throughout my interview process I did my best to stay calm and make my interviews more of a conversation. Also I made sure that I had questions to ask to the interviewer as well. I feel that it makes you look more engaged as well as increases confidence as you take control of the interview. 

6. What is a piece of advice to HRTM students for when they are taking classes at Stout? What should they be paying attention to and engaging in while at the university?

One thing that really helped me was really knowing the lingo and reports used to measure hotels. I never really enjoyed math or numbers of any sort but looking back, I wish I would have joined the club HSMAI. I had always told myself that that I wanted to be in guest services and have more of the guest interaction, but the more I work in the industry the more I realize that at least having the basic understanding of how those numbers work can be beneficial no matter which sector of the industry you work in. 

Also, one thing I use quite regularly is the knowledge from the law and liability classes.  Reading all of those case studies may not always be the most entertaining text to read, but as a manager having the basic knowledge of laws and policies can be quite beneficial.  I find myself referencing those classes a lot. 

7. What is a piece of advice for a student graduating this semester?

I think that many times students get nervous and can get almost overly professional. I think it is important to have the professional demeanor but also to remember that this is hospitality.  You need to have fun and have conversations and be personable. Attend every Career Conference, do as many internships as you can possibly fit in, and get as much experience as you can.  Another thing that I think is extremely important is to get out there and travel.  There is no better way to learn than to experience the other half of the equation. You see what certain businesses are doing right and also what they are doing wrong. It's a great learning advantage as well as a lot of fun.