I first met Khanh Le 2 years ago in New York when she was still a college student who changed her major 3 times. However, I have never seen anyone so passionate about the hospitality industry like her. This story is about Khanh’s bumpy road to the job offer at Orlando World Center Marriott.
My story in America has always been about going against the normal flow.
I switched majors three times before I started my current job, which is only about 35% related to my final major in college. I still remember how hard it was to declare major when more than 50 options were on the table. Another big challenge is when my family did not support me through all my changes. Even though we came to an agreement in Marketing, my major was still a controversial topic as it is very tough for international students to find a decent job in the U.S.
Following a dream and wishing that one day my family and close friends will understand have never been easy. Nevertheless, I cannot spend a day going against my passion. When it comes to hard time, I strengthen my will with this quote:
“Build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs.”
– Farrah Gray –
My will was strong until over one year ago. I started to get scared because my focus around choosing the right major and following my passion had not yet lead to a promised stable job. Being active in class, joining Marketing and Business clubs, and interning at start-ups and local companies were not enough for me. Professor Alan Kerzner, my best and all-time favorite mentors, came at the right time and helped me understand my missing piece: networking. Coming back from an intensive workshop in New York, I created a reference list from my network with every family member, friend, professor, and professional contact. The doors to my opportunities opened since then.
It was a normal day at school when I decided to skip all my classes for a meeting that could change my entire future. Putting on my professional attire and the most comfy heels in my closet, I kept my mind ready to present to the President of a major hospitality company. After a 20-minute nerve-wracking conversation about my dream in the service industry, I nailed my first official summer internship at JW Marriott Hanoi. Becoming marketing coordinator for a 5-star hotel was my best dream come true.
Success was not yet to come that easy. A new city in my own country Hanoi with different weather, culture, and working environment was my new challenge. I came to work early to prepare a task list before my workday began. I volunteered to learn and support on project I had never done before. I decorated my black and white office to an inspiring working corner for my coworkers. After 3 intensive months of new assignments, training, and summer trips, I am proud of myself to have made so many great friends and memories and to secure my own path to a job after graduation at Orlando World Center Marriott.
Working at the front office in the biggest Marriott hotel in the nation, I still sometimes get a hard-to-believe reaction: “What is a marketing student doing here?” Some people may think that I am crazy. Some may think that I cannot find anything better. At the end of the day, I am the only one to know the real answer. I am following the path to my own dream hotel in the future. And no one can stop me.
I am grateful that I have never left alone on this journey. My family. My Yola counselors and teachers. My dear friend Lily. My college “gang” with 6 crazy and funny yet supportive friends. My mentor Alan. My host family the Turner. My JW Marriott Hanoi team. My Orlando World Center team.
Although I can make this list into pages, the most important fact is that I would not have gone this far without you!