Flexibility for the future: Curriculum and experiences pave infinite paths

By: Katelyn Godoy
Photo of Marissa and classmate Madison Austrich posing for a picture at HEC
Marissa (right) and Madison Austrich ’19 (left) at HEC 2017 in front of the design she helped to create

By Marissa Block ’19

At first glance, the Hotel School is your classic pre-professional program. For example, there are weeks when I wear suits more days than I wear casual clothing. But, after spending two and half years here, I have found my learning—both in and out of the classroom—to constantly surprise me and force me to face challenges that go past my direct career interests, which gives me a broader understanding of hospitality.

Obvious preparation is in the classroom. Core courses, or required classes within the Hotel School, range in coursework from Restaurant Management, where you work once a week in a fully functioning restaurant that exists within our school, to various finance classes that evaluate everything down to the bottom line for these operations.

Photo of students dressed in culinary attire in a kitchen
Photo of Marissa holding a banner that read Cornell Hotel School

Even though I came in focused on food and beverage, it is crucial that I understand the finances behind these businesses to get a fuller view and better understanding of the industry. And being in the Hotel School has allowed me to find different facets of food and beverage that interest me. After taking the class Hospitality Development and Planning as a sophomore, I became interested in the topic. This year, I am taking Hospitality Facilities Design, which is a more concentrated elective where I get to learn about architectural drawings and design for hospitality structures. At the same time, I know to consider things in my designs like how difficult it is for a housekeeper to clean the room, which I can thank my freshman core course, Hotel Operations, for.

Photo of Marissa standing behind a table of beverages
Marissa at work last summer at Calissa

It’s not just the classroom learning that has prepared me for post-grad life, but all the opportunities I have seen outside the classroom. I am involved in a multitude of different clubs in the Hotel School, each distinct from the next. I have been involved with Hotel Ezra Cornell (HEC)—a three-day, student-run international hospitality conference—since my freshman year. The conference is incredibly exciting, and just about everyone in our school has played a part in at least one HEC during his or her time here. On the other hand, I am also helping found a club now called The Grid, which is the first design-focused club in the Hotel School.

The Hotel School has connected me with internships and opportunities that I never expected, like spending my last semester studying abroad in Copenhagen, where I studied graphic design in a country known for its legendary design.

While design is my primary interest now, the truth is that I don’t know exactly what I will do in the long-term future. I could give you my current ten-year plan, but it might change by next week, and will probably change after whatever experiences I have at my internship this summer. The best part about being in the Hotel School is the flexibility it gives me for the future. The amount of different paths that Hotelies take is what makes it such an incredibly dynamic learning environment, and I am so excited to see the multitude of paths that the Hotel School finds for me!

Link to learn more about the undergraduate program at the Hotel School

About Marissa Block ’19

Headshot of Marissa

Marissa became serious about hospitality when she took four months of cake decorating classes in seventh grade. Now a junior in the School of Hotel Administration, Marissa is focusing on hospitality design with a minor in design and environmental analysis in the College of Human Ecology. Marissa’s current involvement in the Hotel School includes: VP of marketing & media for the Hotel School Ambassadors, programs team for HEC 93, and working at the Hotel School’s Office of Student Services. She has previously interned for the Hotel School’s Executive Education Department and was a restaurant management intern at Calissa, a restaurant in the Hamptons, on its opening team.