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JJC Hospitality Alums Share Secrets of Success

Posted by Sam Sottosanto on Jan 23, 2017 8:44:47 AM
Sam Sottosanto

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Are you a born leader with a creative side? Hospitality management could be the perfect major for you! With careers in restaurant and hotel management, event planning and tourism, hospitality management alums land jobs near and far - and many enjoy the perks of living in popular vacation destinations.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, many hospitality-related jobs are on the rise, including event planners (11 percent growth from 2016-2026) and lodging managers (4 percent growth from 2016-2026).

Think hospitality management is for you? Read about the experiences of three JJC alums and find out how they landed their careers below.

Amanda Dominick, '16
Associate in Hospitality Management (certificates in Meeting and Special Event Planning and Hotel Management)

amanda dominick alum joliet junior college jjc secrets of success hospitality management

Where do you work?
I currently work at the Hilton Chicago/Oak Brook Hills Resort and Conference Center in Oak Brook, IL, as a Guest Service Agent and Accounts Receivable Coordinator. 

What is the most awesome part of your job?
I enjoy working in hotels in general, because it's such a diverse and ever-changing environment. I get to meet some really wonderful and lovely people. The accounting world is one I never dreamed I would get into. It came up when they needed help and our Director of Operations recommended me to the Director of Accounting. They offered it to me and I said, "Well, why not?" I've enjoyed learning new skills, and getting a better look into the billing part of events.

How did JJC’s hospitality program help get you to where you are today?
It was Catherine Anderson who let me know that the hotel was hiring and her recommendation to another former student of hers who works here that got me my current job (as a side bar, my two previous jobs were also found through the JJC hospitality program). The hospitality program gave me a great foundation. We are provided with so many opportunities to learn, get hands-on experience, and handle real-life situations. Catherine and Anne do so much to help students learn and grow. Some of my best memories of JJC come from hanging out in Anne and Catherine's office in between classes or going out for nachos at La Mex at the end of the day. 

Any advice for current JJC students?
Try to get an internship or job in your field as soon as you can. Don't be afraid to try new things. Be open to new opportunities. Be willing to explore new options and always say yes to a learning opportunity. There are unpleasant people out there, but then you'll meet the really wonderful, lovely people who make your day and you'll remember why you fell in love with hospitality in the first place. Hold out for the good ones.


davion allen alum alumni jjc joliet junior college secrets of success hospitality managementDavion Allen, '12
Associate in Culinary Arts
, General Studies and Hospitality Management

Where do you work?
I currently work at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California as junior sous chef in the banquets department and also at Birdies L.A. in downtown L.A. as a lead line cook.

What is the most awesome part of your job?
The most awesome part is that our entire team does separate tasks, but we all come together at the end with a finished product. We cater to thousands of people at one time, so to start from scratch and come out with a finished product plated and ready to be served in hours - it is amazing.

How did JJC’s hospitality program help get you to where you are today?
When I started JJC, I knew I wanted to do culinary, but when I saw that they offered hospitality management, I knew that would open more doors down the line. Having the hospitality degree opened up doors at the Hilton because if I wanted to do food and beverage, guest services, or anything in the hotel, I will be first in line - not only because I work there, but because I have the degree to back it up.

Any advice for current JJC students?
If you have questions, don't hesitate to ask Catherine or Anne. They are amazing teachers, but mostly amazing women. Even though I graduated, I can still email them for guidance.


matt reid jjc alum alumni joliet junior college hospitality management secrets of successMatt Reid, '04
Associate in Hospitality Management

Where do you work?
I currently am the Restaurant Technology Supervisor at Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurants. I have been with Cooper's Hawk since November 2012.

What is the most awesome part of your job?
One of our core values at Cooper’s Hawk is to “Have Fun & Celebrate.” It is awesome to do this everyday, whether it is with our team members at the Restaurant Support Center or our 25 restaurants.

How did JJC’s hospitality program help get you to where you are today?
Without the JJC Hospitality program and Catherine Anderson, I wouldn't have allowed myself to think outside the box for my future career goals. When I attended JJC, I was one of the few students that didn’t have a culinary background and didn’t want to spend hours in the back of the house everyday. While Catherine helped me understand that spending time working in the back of house would need to be part of my career path to get me where I wanted to get, she also helped me realize that someday my dream position would come around and that I would still be utilizing all of the skills that I learned.

Any advice for current JJC students?
If you are not already working in the hospitality industry, try and get a position in the industry ASAP. This industry isn’t made for everyone, so the sooner you can get a position, the sooner you'll find out if it's right for you. 


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