Post written by: Christina Budd, Student at James Madison University (Class of 2014), Hospitality Management, PCMA – JMU Chapter Vice President
Attending Springtime as a student was an irreplaceable opportunity. It was a great networking opportunity as well as a very beneficial learning experience. At Convening Leaders in January I started getting a better feel for the different career paths possible for Hospitality. As I met more and more CVBs it sparked my interest. As a student I had never learned about that aspect of the industry. I started doing some research on my own to see if it was something I wanted to learn more about, but nothing can educate you like hands on experience.
I saw Bill Adam’s VisitNorfolk video at the PCMA Annual Awards in D.C. last fall. I thought it was really great work and tried my best to introduce myself. Unfortunately, I didn’t run into him. At Convening Leaders, I happened to see him walking into lunch one day and introduced myself. I followed up after the conference and luckily it landed me a student shadowing spot at Springtime.
Our professors began drilling in our minds how important networking was from the very beginning. I respect my professors so I joined PCMA without really understanding what it was and started networking as much as possible. Since then I have been presented with numerous opportunities that my peers have missed out on because of networking. I now understand the true importance of it.
My friend Pippa and I attended Springtime as the first students to participate in the shadowing program. This was our first trade show, so we had a lot to absorb. We participated with Bill Adams and Dori Jenson with Norfolk and Vancouver. Throughout the day I met dozens of professionals, mainly those working for a CVB. Considering I’m interested in CVBs as a career path, this was invaluable networking. I felt like I got closer with Bill as a mentor and saw the inner workings of a trade show from an exhibitor’s point of view. Watching the whole day unfold was a learning experience from beginning to end.
Participating in a shadowing or mentorship program gives you an edge that will help you market yourself after graduation. Being a part of an organization like PCMA gives you incredible opportunities and allows you to learn things you wouldn’t ever pick up in the classroom. I would absolutely encourage every student to take part in this program.