A “land of opportunity” at the Nolan School

By: Katelyn Godoy

Photo of two people standing with old architectural buildings in the background

Wherever you are in the world you can find other Hotelies

By Alex Levy ’18

True statement: The Hotel School is not just “hotels.” I know this may seem like a counterintuitive statement, though trust me, it is absolutely true.

I am what some may call an unconventional Hotelie. I’ve never worked in a hotel, but that hasn’t stopped me from making the Hotel School my home. I am, however, no stranger to a variety of different types of businesses ranging from garage startups (I’ll get to that) to 10,000-person tech companies, and I can speak to how the Hotel School can prepare you for a career in just about anything your heart desires.

The Hotel School is a land of opportunity amongst an ocean of diversity in knowledge. Personal passions and career interests vary from wine to real estate, spas to ecommerce, airlines to finance, you get where I’m going… There is a class in the Hotel School for just about every area of business and an employer out there willing to take a chance on an ambitious Hotelie looking to tear down walls and innovate. I came to the Hotel School because at age seven I wanted to own a cruise line, age 10 an airline, and age 13 a ski resort. The Hotel School is the one place on this planet where all of that (and more) is possible.

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Maidbot co-founders after pitching during a startup showcase in Los Angeles, CA

Though my interests have shifted since age seven, my desire to learn about new areas, expand my horizons, and become seemingly obsessed with just about every esoteric area of the “industry,” my reason for coming to the Hotel School is simple and steadfast—SHA is the land of opportunity. My academic and professional career thus far is evidence of this.

After my freshman year, I wanted to explore the world of fintech and as such spent the summer working for a financial data and analytics software company that provides real-time insights to investment professionals across the world. In this role I analyzed prospective clients’ investment portfolios and strategies to determine if these organizations would be profitable partners for our company.

Following this role, I was approached by a Hotelie classmate of mine who had an idea for a robotics company and was looking for other business-minded folk to join him to grow the company. In the year-and-a-half I spent working on this startup, we grew the company from four to 15 with some incredible technology, several million dollars in institutional investments, an awesome office in Austin, TX, and incredible connections with many of the largest hospitality entities in the world. Following this I spent several months working on growth strategies for an innovative, student-run luxury travel consultancy followed by an internship in commercial strategy with the world’s largest software provider for the airline, hotel, and global travel industry.

As I sit here at 35,000 feet writing this post on my return flight from a Cornell-sponsored trip to the Champagne region of France, I think about all the opportunities to explore and learn while here. Consider exploring the following:


The Hotel School gives students the opportunity to expand their academic breadth through concentrations and minors. Concentrations in the Hotel School include Finance, Accounting, and Real Estate (FARE); Hospitality Leadership Concentration (HOLD); and Services Marketing and Operations Management (SMOM). These concentrations allow students to dive into industry-specific classes at a more granular level than just core classes. Most students choose their concentration based on career interests.


Aside from concentrations many students chose to pursue minors, some related to future careers and others just out of interest. Popular minors for Hotelies include the Real Estate minor, which is housed in the Hotel School, as well as Information Science, Design and Environmental Analysis, and various foreign languages. I personally chose to pursue a Real Estate minor, which allowed me to take classes in a variety of different real estate finance areas alongside sustainable development classes in the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning. Beginning this fall, the university is also offering a university-wide minor in Entrepreneurship and Innovation, which will consist of a multidisciplinary class selection stemming the Hotel School, Industrial and Labor Relations, Applied Economics and Management, and Engineering.


If valuable internships, amazing classes, and unique minors weren’t enough for you, the Hotel School has around 20 different clubs allowing students to gain hands-on experience in a variety of different fields. Popular clubs include the Real Estate Club, Cornell Hotel Society (the alumni organization of the Hotel School and a club I spent two and half years working with), Air and Sea Hospitality, American Hotel and Lodging Association, National Society of Minorities in Hospitality, and more! Personal plug: If you find yourself wanting to work with the next generation of Hotelies and outwardly represent the Hotel School, I highly encourage you to join the Hotelie Ambassadors.

Hotelies in front of a plane
Hotelies touring the Miami International Airport on a Hotel School Fall Break Trip
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Cornell Hotel Society, Collegiate Chapter 2016 Executive Board

My recommendation to you is to take advantage of it all! Get your feet wet in many different areas—take cool classes, join an interesting club, explore different internships. There’s no one way to spend your four years here, but it sure would be a shame to not make use of all the opportunities this school has to provide for you. If you have any specific questions, you can easily reach me by email at aml359@cornell.edu!

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

About Alex Levy ’18

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Alex Levy is a senior in the Nolan School of Hotel Administration originally from Westchester, NY. Alex spent this past summer in Dallas, TX working with Sabre as a commercial strategy analyst intern where he led a team of interns to develop a business plan for the use of Internet of Things technology to transform the airport journey experience via an airlines mobile app. Prior to that, Alex co-founded Maidbot, a robotics company that is revolutionizing the commercial cleaning industry, leading the early business development and commercialization strategy efforts. Alex is an avid traveler, loyalty geek, and blind wine-tasting enthusiast. In his free time, you can find him hopping across the world, or outdoors hiking, snowboarding, or running.