Hazel Hernandez

Hospitality Administration, May 2008Hazel

I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Administration in May of 2008. I was fortunate to have a job waiting for me at the North Little Rock Visitors Bureau, thanks to my internship at the Bureau earlier that year. Nothing can prepare you for your career as much as an internship. Your internship is as much about putting your classroom knowledge to use as it is learning about yourself; learning where your strengths lie and knowing what direction you want to take in your career.

As a student at Tech, I had great teachers and a great student advisor in Ray Moll. Working events with Ray is actually what lead to my decision to seek an internship at a Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB). I found an internship with the North Little Rock Visitors Bureau in January of 2008, and discovered that CVBs are much more than event coordinators. They're the Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) for its city which means their job is to ultimately promote that city. They do this by working with the local community and the city's tourism facilities, i.e., hotels, restaurants, attractions, special events, and festivals. Through my internship I worked a lot behind the scenes. Although it wasn't always easy, it gave me the opportunity to meet several city and state community partners with whom I now work on a daily basis. I think the best part of my internship was my colleagues at the North Little Rock Visitors Bureau. They contributed tomy professional development as much as the experiences I had during my time as an intern. As a student, it's important to find an internship where they entrust you with projects and take the time to teach you. That's what the Bureau offered me.

After my internship was over, I was asked by the Executive Director at the time to stay on full-time. My job was constantly changing and I'm always working on several projects at a time. The job has also provided me with great opportunities that I might not have had if I had gone in another direction; such as hearing President Clinton personally speak at events I've attended and meeting several legislators on an international and national level. In 2010, I was recognized as one of the Arkansas Business "20 in Their Twenties", which was a huge honor for me. It all started because of my internship.

In January 2013, I accepted a position as Convention Services Manager for the Fayetteville Visitors Bureau and have since been promoted toSpecial Events Manager.

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