We interviewed Emi Haverkamp, a JMU alum who graduated last May from the HTM program, about her current position with HSMAI! Emi was the creator of our Dukes in Hospitality blog and the lovely Madison Entertaining Magazine. We are so excited to share this great success story from a JMU grad of Hospitality! Enjoy!
- How did you learn about HSMAI and what did you do to prepare for this job position?
HSMAI (Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International) is a non-profit association that serves the hospitality industry with a core team of nine people. It is positioned in an association management company called Coulter, headquartered in McLean, VA. Coulter provides association management services for 18 different nonprofit associations; marketing, experiential, and corporate event management for non-profit and for-profit clients; and corporate consulting services that helps clients implement strategic and innovative solutions to organizational challenges.
I am a huge advocate for students realizing the importance of networking. I had been told all through my college career that I should use every opportunity to build relationships and be memorable with everyone I interacted with. It ended up really paying off for me in the end! I learned of the open position at HSMAI because of my past networking with Blake Kotenbrink, who works at Coulter as the Senior Vice President and Managing Director of the Coulter Events Agency. I had interviewed with Blake for a summer internship and kept in communication with him post-interview. Without my knowledge, during the week of JMU Graduation, Blake had passed my resume on to the President and CEO of HSMAI, Bob Gilbert, for a recently opened full-time position that Blake thought I should be considered for. The Monday after Graduation, I received communication from Bob that the leadership team wanted to interview me that week, and three days later I was employed in a position that I was very excited for. As I started my work in my new role, I made sure to ask a lot of candid questions and be very honest with my leadership team about my expectations, my strengths, my weaknesses, etc. In my role I have many responsibilities and no two days are the same. I was able to find a job in hospitality with generous pay, full benefits, flexible work hours, and a company where I can really see the difference I am making in the industry. I work Monday through Friday, and am able to pick my own hours so I can usually be found in the office from 7:00 -3:00. This gives me my whole evening to spend doing the things I enjoy in my free time. Overall, I’d say that I am very happy that during my job hunt I waited for the offer that would best match my ‘checklist’ of personal wants in a career. By staying true to myself and being patient, yet proactive, I was able to find a great fit.
- What is the overall experience like working for HSMAI? What do your day-to-day tasks involve? What are some of the major projects you’ve worked on so far or are in the workings?
With HSMAI, my official title is the Business Development Manager. Being on such a small team that produces such a vast amount of events, products, research, etc. in the industry every year, I have a great amount of varied responsibilities that keep me very busy. I love that I have the opportunity to throw myself into projects that someone my age typically doesn’t get the exposure to, and that my leadership team supports and implements my creativity, ideas, and skills on a regular basis. I have active involvement in my organization’s event management, strategic marketing, public relations, business development, budgeting strategy, and more. As a young professional who would like to be an entrepreneur one day, the value of having this role directly out of undergrad is priceless.
My typical day-to-day tasks revolve around managing HSMAI’s partnership program by: soliciting partners for all products, programs, and services in alignment with the annual plan and budget of HSMAI; preparing annual contracts for key partner accounts (cash and trade); securing advertising for partners within production timelines for enewsletters, event marketing, and publications; securing collateral and communicating onsite requirements to conference partners; generating thank you correspondence and post event deliverables; managing the master tracking & deliverables of annual partnerships; preparing invoices as needed and reconciling receipts with partner agreements; and responding to inquiries and leads expeditiously. I would say that all of my partnership duties make up about 50% of my daily work.
Other projects I might have include creating digital marketing materials and digital media presentations for HSMAI conferences and events, certifications, educational services, and partnership opportunities; executing project management of HSMAI Executive Roundtables through developing the target databases, personalized invitations, & RSVP management, assisting with content development with other HSMAI team members and partners, providing insight and expertise in the development of the HSMAI Knowledge Center and web site, and assisting with special projects on an ad hoc basis; and finally, providing general support to the HSMAI President and Executive Vice Presidents through receiving and distributing inbound mail, responding to online inquiries, managing outbound mail, entering & editing records in our databases and pulling reports as needed.
The most exciting project that I am currently working on is acting as the public relations and sponsorship lead for the 2012 HSMAI Adrian Awards Gala. The HSMAI Adrian Awards is the biggest and most premier awards show globally, celebrating the best of the best in advertising, public relations, and digital marketing campaigns in the hospitality industry. It is a huge honor to receive an Adrian Award and be recognized as a thought leader in front of all of the hospitality industry. Being a lead on the event’s management team is a wonderful responsibility and has been the most significant learning experience I’ve had thus far.
- What is it like working with top executives when you’re 22 years old fresh out of college?
The people I work with are at the top of their game, and have been in hospitality for a very long time. I am consistently inspired by their zeal for the industry, their established best business practices, and their knowledge of what it takes to truly be successful in the hospitality business. It can definitely be intimidating to be the youngest mind in the room, but it has taught me to really be engaged in the industry, to remain relevant, and be heard. Whether it be keeping up with the latest industry news, or connecting with the executive professionals outside of expected work interactions, I have developed the practice of staying on top of the industry. Because of the unique responsibilities in my role, I have had the opportunity to interact with the top executives at very significant companies in the industry today – Google, Marriott, Expedia, American Express, Hilton, Intercontinental Hotel Group, and more. Being surrounded by such key constituents within the industry every day is not what I ever expected as my first job out of college, but I can only take the opportunities I am given to present myself through HSMAI in a professional and knowledgeable way and establish a positive name for myself amongst these executives.
- What are your future goals with this company? Do you plan on broadening your education? (going back to school/ getting another degree)
I honestly love my job and I’d like to work for HSMAI for the next couple of years while I pursue graduate school. I am planning on going back to school to pursue a Masters degree in public relations. Through my work with HSMAI and our partners, I have found that I have a strong heart for the public relations side of hospitality. My ultimate goal is to establish my own public relation firm that works solely with hospitality organizations. HSMAI is providing me with the professional skill development, experience, and networking to really get to know the people of the industry, and I would be very happy continuing with this role until I finish graduate school and transition into a position in the public relations segment.
- What did you take from the HTM program that gave you this position you are in today?
The HTM program taught me how to incorporate strategic business thinking in a creative and service-oriented industry. The hands-on approach to JMU’s curriculum really allowed me to apply my classroom learning into tangible projects and events that gave me the experience and confidence to be successful immediately out of college. I think the biggest asset of JMU’s program is the faculty – they gave me the resources, knowledge, and opportunities as an undergrad to really take me far at a young age in the industry. My best advice to current seniors and underclassmen at JMU would be to really take advantage of those faculty members and absorb as much of their knowledge as you can. Consider all of the learning opportunities a very valuable use of your time, determine what your strengths and passions are, and seek out the extra opportunities that will push you beyond your expectations and make you an even more experienced, competitive candidate upon your Graduation date.