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UCF Rosen College Career Fair Sets New Record as Largest Event Ever with “Big 12—Charge on to Your Career”

The UCF Rosen College of Hospitality Management recently hosted its largest career fair to date, breaking records as the biggest event in the college’s history.
By Holly Robbins | October 25, 2023

The UCF Rosen College of Hospitality Management recently hosted its largest career fair to date, breaking records as the biggest event in the college’s history. On October 25, 2023, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., more than 200 esteemed industry partners and employers gathered at the UCF Rosen College campus, solidifying its position as the top hospitality program in the nation.

The career fair, named “Big 12—Charge on to Your Career,” showcased the industry’s growing demand for nurturing the next generation of hospitality leaders. With an expanded space and resources, this semester’s fair welcomed nearly 1200 students.

Melanie Anesh, Director of Strategic Initiatives and Partnerships at the Central Florida Hotel and Lodging Association, emphasized the fair’s importance in supporting the future leaders of the central Florida hospitality industry. “CFHLA has been a long-time partner and supporter of UCF Rosen and their career fair as a way for us to continue to support our members, engage with our community and educational partners, and help the future leaders of central Florida’s hospitality industry succeed,” Anesh said.

The hospitality industry is currently experiencing a labor shortage, but this presents a unique opportunity for those with four-year degrees. According to a June 2023 survey by the National Restaurant Association, 63% of restaurant operators say they are looking to hire workers with a four-year degree, up from 57% in 2022. Similarly, a June 2023 survey by the American Hotel & Lodging Association found that 72% of hotels are looking to hire workers with a four-year degree, up from 66% in 2022.

Despite some common misconceptions about the industry, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the average starting salary for hospitality majors in 2023 is $57,000, up from $54,000 in 2022. Additionally, many hospitality businesses are offering tuition reimbursement and other programs to help employees develop their skills and advance their careers.

Events like the career fair look to help fill the gap that currently exists in the industry. Danielle Oxley, College Recruiter for Marriott Vacations Worldwide, expressed excitement about the talent pool the career fair provides. “The Rosen College Career Fair is fundamental for us in building a fantastic talent pool for all our opportunities,” Oxley shared. “As a Rosen College alumna, it’s great to come back year after year and see what these amazing students are capable of and all the future opportunities. They are the future leaders of the hospitality industry.”

John Zoller, Senior Director of Client Relationships for Freeman, echoed the sentiment of staying connected to future leaders. “Some of our best and brightest have come from Rosen College, so it’s our chance to stay connected to our future leaders and the team we have,” Zola emphasized. “Certainly, post-Covid, we have a lot of new talent and positions. The industry is coming back strong, so we see a big need for it. We’ve been fortunate to be a partner for a long time, and we have no plans of slowing down anytime soon.”

Organized by Rosen College juniors and seniors, the career fair showcased the college’s commitment to providing real-world experience in event management. Under the guidance of Steven Brinkman, the instructor for HET 4594 Event Operations, students gained valuable insights into various aspects of event planning, including marketing, operations, accounting, decor, food and beverage, and training/development.

“The career fair class mirrors the diverse roles found within an event services company,” said Brinkman. “Our students have worked tirelessly to make this the largest and most successful career fair yet, benefiting both our students and the attending companies seeking top talent.”

In addition to networking opportunities with HR professionals and industry leaders, the career fair offered attendees the chance to secure immediate interviews with on-site employers. Renowned companies such as Hilton, Marriott, Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort, and Freeman were among the many organizations present, offering attendees the potential to land their dream careers.

To further support students and alumni, the Big 12 career fair provided a professional headshot service and hosted resume workshops. With the support of sponsors including Freeman, Marriott Vacations Worldwide, Universal Orlando Resort, CFHLA, Little Gem Resorts, Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin, and Explore Charleston, the fair aimed to fully prepare attendees for long-term placement and advancement in their careers.

For highlights and photos from this semester’s exciting event, visit Rosen College Gallery