Name: Stefania Rivero '20
Hometown: Miami, FL
Degree/major: Bachelor's in hospitality management —summer of 2020; master's in hospitality management —summer 2021
Where do you work? What is your title?: Event coordinator, Bill Hansen Catering & Event Production.
How did you get your job? I was fortunate enough to be one of Bill Hansen’s students in his catering management class at FIU. The term project was to produce an event, and I was selected to be the “event manager.” Bill was impressed with my initiative and asked me to intern for him throughout the Summer of 2020. Throughout the pandemic, I continuously worked remotely with Bill and his team on various projects. Once my internship was over and the events industry was coming back to life, I was offered the opportunity to become an event coordinator for the company operating out of Villa Woodbine in Coconut Grove.
What experience did you need to have to be hired? Being an event coordinator is basically an entry-level position, but it is beneficial to have knowledge and some experience within the events industry. Having a basic knowledge of event production components such as invoicing, vendor relations, catering, etc. has been extremely helpful throughout my time in this position. Not only that, but it is very important to have great communication and organizational skills being that I interact with clients and vendors on a daily basis.
How did you gain this type of experience while in school? Throughout the course of my undergraduate and master’s degrees, I was able to get a glimpse of the events industry through my position as a recruitment coordinator for the South Beach Wine & Food Festival®. Aside from SOBEWFF®, I’ve also immersed myself in the catering industry by operating my own at-home baked goods business, Stef’s Sweet Events. Of course, both of these experiences were fueled by the knowledge and hands-on learning that I’ve received from the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management.
What was your greatest fear going into your first job out of college? How did you overcome that fear? I knew going into this position that I would be the newest employee that the company had hired for quite some time as they were beginning to rebuild the team post-COVID. I’d say that my biggest fear was getting comfortable within an environment where everyone was already familiar with each other and their respective abilities. I constantly reminded myself that I was in this position for a reason and that I was hired to contribute to the success of the team. I made a continuous effort to learn from each of the event producers and understand their various tasks and how I could efficiently help execute them.
What does your day-to-day look like? A typical day in my life starts off at the beautiful and historic Villa Woodbine in Coconut Grove. My overall role as an event coordinator is to assist the event producers with general tasks that essentially help them plan and operate events efficiently. Each day at the Villa, I am maintaining communication with clients, applying payments, entering leads, booking/coordinating tastings, creating event proposals, and more. Every day looks different, but the tasks are generally the same.
How does the Chaplin School of Hospitality play a role in you landing your first job out of college? Aside from the courses that I have taken at the Chaplin School and the fact that one of my professors is now my current boss, the school has offered me the chance to experience multiple facets of the hospitality industry. I’ve had multiple instances of hands-on experience in hotels, catering, food production, tourism, and events. At the end of the day, these experiences have led me to the decision that I absolutely love the events industry and I now know that this is the career path that I would like to embark on. Without the plethora of opportunities provided by the Chaplin School, I would have never been able to decide on what career I would like to pursue without getting the experience first.
Do you feel like the Chaplin School prepared you for this type of job? The hands-on experiences that have been offered have been extremely beneficial towards my current position. However, the faculty and staff at the Chaplin School have all played a major role in preparing me for the “real world.” They have all shown continuous support and have motivated me to be confident in all that I do.
What advice do you have for students looking for a job? Be open to any opportunities that may arise and search for valuable connections with your professors, as they have a vast amount of knowledge and experience that can guide you toward discovering your path.
What is the coolest thing about your job? Not only do I get to work out of a historic venue in the heart of Miami, but I am also exposed to so many different types of events and venues. Being that Bill Hansen Catering & Event Production has been successfully operating for over 40 years, I work alongside professionals who continuously look for ways to innovate and improve the industry as a whole. I can confidently say that I am constantly learning and growing with the team I currently work with.
What is next for you? After graduating with my master's this summer, I plan on focusing on my current position as an event coordinator with hopes to work my way up and eventually become an event producer.