Twenty-five students in The School of Hospitality Business at MSU traveled to San Diego, CA February 21-25 for the 89th Annual Club Managers Association of America World Conference. All are members of The School’s award-winning student chapter of CMAA, and the group was largest from MSU to attend the conference in five years.
The students attended educational sessions with roundtable discussions about the current trends in private club management and the possible career paths in the club industry. Other sessions featured speakers who are on the frontlines of the industry.
In addition, they met and networked with influential executives, including Three Carpenter, the former GM/COO of Dallas Country Club and past GM of Hillwood Country Club in the Greater Nashville area. With assistance from Mr. Carpenter, several of the students were able to participate in a popular session on leadership development offered by Kevin MacDonald, former club manager and official coach for the CMAA. Says Madison Skornicka (BA ’20):
“Our group — Chelsea Donahue (BA ’16), Angela Minielly (BA ’16), Leah Koulouras (BA ’17) and I — learned a number of life lessons. One is to be yourself. Own your story and be true to it; don’t lie about anything, and be as genuine as possible. Two is the power of influence. With Three Carpenter’s influence, we were introduced to Kevin MacDonald. To be an influential person you must pass it on! Three is that whether a moment is a good moment or a bad moment, it is too soon to tell. The four of us openly discussed our questions and concerns about the industry and life in general. Our time with Mr. MacDonald was a meaningful experience, and one that we will all remember forever. We are all very grateful we had this opportunity.”
In a lighter vein, the students were invited to participate in a “mock fashion show” led by Ray Kondziela, GM/COO of the Ivanhoe Club in the Chicago area. Kaitlin Smith (BA ’16), president of the CMAA student chapter, says, “We got to laugh about some of the things that people actually wear to interviews with private clubs. We also got to exaggerate the ‘interview attire’ a little bit and make it an enjoyable session for every student in the room.”
Kaitlin also reported that as a result of attendance at World Conference, David Bartosiewicz (BA ’17), the chapter’s director of Club Relations, accepted a Level II internship with the Cherokee Town and Country Club, located in Atlanta, Georgia. In addition, Karina Thomas (BA ’16), CEO of The School’s Hospitality Association and past CMAA executive board member, accepted a full-time position with Big Canyon Country Club in Newport Beach, California. Both clubs are among the prestigious Platinum Clubs of America.
The students also attended a memorable networking event at SeaWorld, noting that meeting club managers and industry professionals in this casual setting allowed for a comfortable exchange of thoughts and ideas.
Networking also occurred between various CMAA student chapters around the country. The day before World Conference began, several of the chapters shared in a kayak tour in La Jolla, learning about the history of the area, and getting to know peers from other universities.
The students returned to East Lansing having learned valuable lessons from guest speakers, established mentor/mentee relationships with club managers nationwide, and explored internship and permanent placement opportunities. “We are extremely grateful to the many generous alumni and donors to The School and to its Scholarship Committee who enable student travel to importance events such as CMAA World Conference,” says Kaitlin. “The School gives us every opportunity to find success in our industry.”