Equipped to Lead and Succeed

USF Hospitality Management Students Attend IMEX America 2014 as Part of their Career and Professional Development

by Gina Alvarez

Four Department of Hospitality Management (HM) students attended the 2014 IMEX America conference that was held in Las Vegas, Nevada during October 13-16, 2014. Students Simone Aguilar, Christa Green, Danielle Ranoa and Lindley Stovall were invited to attend the Future Leaders Forum, a part of IMEX America that is specifically tailored to students in their senior year who are interested in a career in the global meetings and events industry. The students had the opportunity to learn about the latest trends in meetings and events, as well as attend inspirational sessions from industry experts.

IMEX America is a meetings and events tradeshow that sets the pace for doing business on an international scale by providing a schedule power-packed with inspiring education, career development opportunities and networking events. This tradeshow features the largest Hosted Buyer Program in North America and attracts thousands of buyers and exhibitors from the U.S. and around the world. Throughout the four days of IMEX America, Meeting Professionals International (MPI) offers and supports a range of educational sessions, daily general session and show floor education for attendees. IMEX America is also focused on providing cutting-edge information and technology to better serve the needs of attendees.

Christa Green was thrilled to have been a part of The Future Leaders Forum. She said, “This was a truly amazing experience. It provided me with the opportunity to learn about the multitude of opportunities that are available for careers in the events and meetings industry, which is so much more expansive than the box I had previously put them into. I loved having the opportunity to meet with industry professionals and hear about their own experiences as well as their advice for aspiring students. I was also very impressed with the variety of presentations and the quality of the speakers we heard on topics ranging from networking to sustainability to diversity, all of which gave me valuable knowledge which I will be able to apply directly to my future career.”

HM students are dedicated to attending industry related conferences as part of the career and professional development they undertake in conjunction with their academic experience at USF. The Department makes conference opportunities available to students as it is a method to learn about jobs, internships, projects and other work-based possibilities.

“It is important that students learn about key issues in the industry as a whole,” states Michelle Millar, Assistant Professor, who accompanied the students to Las Vegas. “At the same time, the Future Leaders Forum at IMEX provided USF hospitality students with the personal opportunity to sit down with professionals from all aspects of meeting and event planning, and ask specific questions related to their career choices. It was an invaluable experience for them.”

IMEX America is the perfect venue to connect students with key players. General Manager of the Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas, Cliff Atkinson (USF ’99) hosted a special reception for USF Hospitality Management alumni and friends on October 14. This marks the second year Mr. Atkinson accommodates such a gathering at his hotel. “IMEX America in Las Vegas is a perfect time to bring students, faculty, alumni and friends together for a unique networking opportunity” shares Mr. Atkinson. “We look forward to hosting this event next year.”

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