Evelina Lipcer ’18 knows a thing or two about networking.
The former Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival (SOBEWFF®) event assistant is now a conference coordinator at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel. A position, she says, she landed thanks to her work at the Festival.
“The connections I made at the Festival are what got me where I am right now,” she says.
So when she was offered the job, a semester before her graduation, she was ready for the opportunity. She earned her bachelor’s in hospitality and tourism management months after starting her job at the hotel.
Lipcer’s SOBEWFF® journey began as a volunteer when she was a sophomore. Eager to get some real-world experience, she knew it was the perfect opportunity to immerse herself in the world of event planning.
“I was exploring internships in different areas of hospitality but I gravitated toward the event side,” Lipcer says.
After her first year as a volunteer, Lipcer then became the assistant to one of the Festival’s event managers, Susan Kleinberg, a role she fulfilled for two consecutive years.
There, she shadowed Kleinberg, helping with preparations for events hosted at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel, such as Oyster Bash, Tribute Dinner and the Southern Kitchen Brunch hosted by singer Trisha Yearwood.
She also worked alongside the hotel’s staff, including its directors of banquets, catering and conference coordination and put together menus, set up table decor, managed key supply logistics and more.
“It was exactly what I wanted to learn,” she says. “I was interacting with department executives who were working with Susan to execute corporate scale hotel events.”
Before working at the Festival she was uncertain of where she would fit in the industry after graduation, but working with Kleinberg gave her the inspiration she needed to feel like she found her place.
“I fell in love with the hotel’s atmosphere and people. Everything fell into place. It felt like the perfect next step,” she says.
Kleinberg, who has managed events for the Festival since its first year, says Lipcer went “above and beyond” her expected tasks.
“I knew that she was bright, hardworking and ambitious,” Kleinberg says. “She went the extra mile, and it made an impression.”
“I actually saw her during our recent round of meetings for the upcoming Festival, and she looked very happy and very official walking around the hotel,” Kleinberg says. “She knows what she’s doing.”
Lipcer is grateful for the massive boost the Festival gave her in the competitive world of hospitality.
“I hit the jackpot. I didn’t just meet the most influential people in my target market, I was working alongside them. The opportunity let me demonstrate my commitment and work ethic.
“It’s not easy in life to find something you really love,” she adds. “I love what I am doing. It’s a dream job.”
To learn more about how to volunteer at the Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival, click here.