Skip to Content
Students have an Ultra learning experience at one of world’s top electronic dance music festivals
FIU hospitality students get a resume boost at the 2023 Ultra Music Festival.

Students have an Ultra learning experience at one of world’s top electronic dance music festivals

Dozens of students from all majors add Ultra Music Festival to their resumes

March 31, 2023 at 9:45am

Between the techno and dance-pop sounds, bass drops and sets from DJ headliners like David Guetta, Marshmello and Alesso, dozens of FIU students got a hands-on lesson and work experience at one of the world’s top outdoor electronic music fests, Ultra Music Festival at Miami’s Bayfront Park.

Some 160,000 people from over 100 countries packed into the park over three days last weekend, and FIU students were there stationed throughout the venue to cover key roles including registration and ticketing, credentialing and VIP access, crowd management and food rescue and sustainability efforts such as Mission: Home, inside the event’s designated Eco Village.

For Miranda Ghirimoldi, who is about to graduate with her master’s degree in hospitality management with a concentration in mega and large-scale events, the experience was a unique opportunity to learn in real time from industry professionals. She led a team of 20 students who are part of the school’s event club, Back of House. The club is made up of students who are interested or want to work in the events industry.

“The fact that we can learn how to handle staffing, work with incoming guests and, at the event, about staging, safety and security from our professor, it’s amazing,” said Ghirimoldi, who will enter the workforce with experience when she graduates in May.


FIU Back of House club students, including Miranda Ghirimoldi (3rd from right), play key roles in operations management.


With seven sound stages, an Eco Village dedicated to sustainable practices and hundreds of food vendors, Ultra gives students studying event management an incredible real-time look at every aspect of how a mega event is operated. Mega events are considered events of 10,000 people or more.

“As valuable as the lessons learned in the classroom and in study are, real life experience is able to bring it all together. The knowledge learned from being ‘boots on the ground’ during an event is critical to the overall learning process,” said Ray Martinez, an FIU Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management adjunct professor and former Miami Beach Police chief who headed security operations for Ultra.

Martinez coordinated with the City of Miami and hundreds of police officers and fire rescue units on site to ensure safety.

Many of the students working Ultra were part of the 1,500 FIU students who ran the South Beach Wine & Food Festival®, the Chaplin School’s signature event that takes place every February on the sands of Miami Beach and at venues throughout Miami-Dade County. The added bonus for the young people is networking.

“You get to meet great producers, event organizers and big names that are helping you make connections, and you also learn from them. You can ask them as many questions as you want. I’m actually building connections,” said Aruzhan Toleubay, a master’s degree student in the mega events management track, who has worked on the Super Bowl in addition to Ultra and the South Beach Wine & Food Festival®.


Aruzhan Toleubay on the VIP stage working in Mission Control, Ultra's community engagement representatives


For Gabriela Cortes Garriga, a master’s degree student in the mega events track, who also expects to graduate in May, it’s all about interacting with festivalgoers. “It’s really different because you actually get to talk to the customers. Working at Ultra has been amazing. I’ve gotten to know a lot of people who are in the industry and I’ve learned how to deal with the public and VIPs,” she said.

This year’s student-led efforts also included a green team to minimize waste, also known as Mission: Home. The sustainability program is similar to an initiative also implemented by FIU students at SOBEWFF® that resulted in more than 40 tons of waste staying out of landfills. Online hospitality student Alexsandra Herrera is passionate about the planet, so she took on the role of Ultra’s sustainability intern and led a number of eduational initiatives including the Leave No Trace and Compost for Life programs.

“I think that it’s very gratifying and it’s very fulfilling to be someone in the beginnings of something that is going to change the world. And I think It’s just great to rep FIU, great to rep my hometown and, I mean, just see this program grow from the ground up,” said Herrera.

This year’s volunteer program was named after the late Dan Cormany, the Chaplin School’s lead professor of mega and large-scale events, who passed away in November.

“Having a new program under Professor Cormany’s name, I think, is a great way to honor him,” said Ghirimoldi. “He gave his life for us, the students in the hospitality industry, in the event industry and, thanks to him and the opportunities FIU gives us, we have a lot of students working in this program.”


FIU students worked alongside Emily Milton (2nd from right), Ultra Music Festival Sustainability Program Manager, on waste diversion efforts. 

ultra-2023-students-4.jpgGabriela Cortes Garriga (right) learning how to deal with customers and VIP's.