Advice for new Hotelies from those who came before

By: Katelyn Godoy
Photo of students walking in front of Statler Hall on a sunny day

Hotelies are passionate. They are bold. They are leaders. What’s the best way to dive into the School of Hotel Administration? How can you get the most out of your education? Being a new student can be overwhelming—but the Hotelie network is ready to welcome you with open arms.

Current students and alumni from the School of Hotel Administration offer their best advice for the incoming class.

Get involved and find new opportunities

“Take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. You are only here for a limited time and it will fly by!”
—Sarah Monahan ’19

“Be bold. Try new things and don’t be afraid of failing because both your peers and professors will be there to support you and guide you. You don’t want to graduate wondering ‘what if.’”
—Grace Bricken ’20

“Explore and take advantage of all the resources SHA has to offer! There truly is something for everybody.”
—Tasha Lam ’19

“Get involved with HEC [Hotel Ezra Cornell].”
—Shaina Arsenault ’19

“Stay open-minded to new experiences and try to find a good group of friends.”
—Maria Tucker ’21

“Get involved, especially with Female Leadership in Hospitality (FLiH)! It’s a great way to meet upperclass(wo)men and get academic, social, and career advice in an informal environment. Start by signing up to be a “little” and we’ll see you soon!”
—Carmel Ruth Bendit-Shtull ’19

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Get to know the amazing faculty

“Go to office hours! I made the mistake freshman year of just ignoring when I was lost in classes, when I should have been more proactive and met with TAs and professors. They’re more than willing to help, and it helps your grade so much!”
—Sarah Baturka ’20

“Talk to your professors and get to know them! They’re amazing and want to see you succeed. Conversations with Reneta McCarthy helped me discover my fascination with the casino industry. I can’t wait to take her class on casinos this fall!”
—Alex Adamek ’20

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Learn as much as you can

“Take classes that fascinate you! All classes require hard work, but even hard work can be enjoyable if you are interested in the material.”
—Hana Friedman ’21

“Best tip: Take classes outside of the Hotel School! Cornell has some of the most interesting and exciting classes, so make sure to access other departments. Some of the most unique classes I’ve taken include a course about the ethics of traveling, which was in the Department of Asian Studies, and a class on modern art history. While Statler is my home, I’ve always had a great time taking classes outside of the school—whether they’re related to what I’m learning or just a subject which interests me.”
—Marissa Block ’19

“Take wines! Cheryl Stanley was super knowledgeable and the guest speakers were so passionate about their field. It’s a great way to be introduced to such an important piece of F&B hospitality culture around the world and expand one’s horizons well beyond ‘white or red.’”
Katie Sheehan ’16

“Excel is your best friend! Pay attention to business computing! While business computing was one of the hardest classes to get through freshman year—especially the Excel part—it has been one of the most beneficial to me as a Hotelie even seven years after graduation! The class teaches basic skills that are beneficial for the rest of your Cornell Hotel School and real world Hotelie career. I work in consulting today and thank myself for taking it seriously.”
—Sandhya Malhotra Chhabria ’11

“Have an ‘I want to learn about that’ attitude. Will take you a long way!”
—Sambhavi Vempati, MMH ’17

“Explore as many subjects as you can! The more variety you have under your belt, the better.”
—Amanda Friedman ’19

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Think ahead and be practical

“If you don’t understand the material, ask for help ASAP before you get behind. Also, TA for at least one semester. It’s a great way to network with other Hotelies!”
—Andrew Vinegar ’18

“Invest in some comfy, all black, non-slip shoes early because you’ll need them for four core (Hotel Operations, Food Operations, Culinary, and Restaurant Management)! It’s the one thing I wish I had been told because I kept buying my shoes for a class and then donating them not knowing I’d need them for another class.”
—Paulina Munn ’19

“Keep your head up. Don’t judge your self-worth based on failure and rejection and definitely don’t let that stop you from doing what you love.”
—Bradley Chen ’21

“Study at Statler! Working in the Nestlé Library and lounge in Statler Hall has created so many great memories and friendships for me. It gets loud sometimes, but if you can tolerate the noise, the social aspect of it will change your time at Cornell.”
—Max Aronson ’19

“Forget all you know already and be ready to be blown away!”
Prateek Kumar, MMH ’19

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Be prepared to develop great friendships

“Think like a journalist and ask loads of questions. Demonstrate your active interest in your classmates, your instructors, and the industry leaders you’ll meet to discover their passions, motivations, and unique perspectives.

Take lots of photos of your ordinary daily experience. Capture the memories you’re making on campus, even in what feels like mundane moments, because your classmates are tomorrow’s hospitality industry rockstars and it never hurts to have a little photographic evidence of how you knew them back in the day!”
—Julie N. Zagars ’94

“Never be afraid to ask for help. The Hotel School family is always there for you and want you to succeed.”
—Haris Hasan ’18

“Make friends and make time for them! You’re about to meet your lifelong squad.”
—Davana Bolton ’16

“Network! Network! Network! When you become a part of the Hotel School, you get the opportunity to meet some incredible people. Make it a priority to do so. You never know what doors it could open for you in the future!”
—Alizée Weber, MMH ’19

“My advice to incoming Hotel School students has been the same since I became a sophomore in 2008. Look to your left. Look to your right. Look in front of you. Look behind you. These people are your community. One may become your best friend. Another may be your study partner. Another may be your project partner. Another may be your future business partner. Another may help you get one step closer to your dream job. At Cornell, you never walk alone. You share the Hill. Get to know those around you and the places that surround you.”
—Brandon Payne Bycer ’11

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1 Comment

  1. Listen, listen. listen …. Cornell offers such a great experience, enjoy it, work to assist others as it is the greatest reward … Cornell Hotel 1968.

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