The internship was the most impactful and helpful resource in starting my career.
Rachel Farina is not — and has never been — a musician, but she embraces the intrinsic beauty in what Willie Nelson was singing about when he crooned, “I can’t wait to get on the road again.”
Rachel and her sister were competitive gymnasts in their youth. Even when they weren’t traveling to competitions, they were taken on eye-opening trips with their adventurous mother.
“My love for staying in hotels was organic,” she says, “and the mystique behind the front desk was always a wonder to me. I always wondered what it was like to be on the other side and be the experience and memory maker.
“I thought a career in hospitality would open up more travel doors for me. Ironically, the schedule is pretty demanding so you don’t get to travel as often as you’d like, especially in an operations role, but we’ve made it work and I always find a trip or two to sneak in.”
Rachel’s hospitality career has, in her words, “skyrocketed” since studying resort and hospitality management (RHM) at FGCU and serving internships as a sales and marketing assistant at The Inn on Fifth and then in social media at Waldorf Astoria Naples in 2011 when social media was starting to take off.
She stayed with the company after graduation and was promoted to marketing and public relations coordinator, then marketing and communications manager, and director of eCommerce and marketing communications. In July 2017, she moved to New York City so that her husband and fellow alum Tony Farina (’11, Resort & Hospitality Management) could pursue a law degree at Hofstra, and was able to stay with the company in its corporate office, serving as area director of eCommerce. She is now the director of marketing for Loews Regency New York Hotel.
She credits the School of Resort & Hospitality Management’s faculty (“they were all at some point hoteliers or restaurateurs”) and the internship program.
“I’m in no way trying to discount other educators, but for hospitality, it really helped to have their real-world knowledge and application of the things they were teaching,” Rachel says. “Hospitality is a unique industry. It’s 24/7, service-based, and the people are the biggest asset. Not all basic principles from other disciplines translate easily to our business, so the fact that the educators were once in the shoes we hoped to be in really made an impact on how we learned and applied our knowledge. I feel like it gave us a leg up once we got into the working world.
“I can wholeheartedly say that the internship was the most impactful and helpful resource in starting my career. Without the internship and partnership from local hotels, it would be so much harder to get a job post-graduation. Plus, the job would be truly entry level, whereas during the internship, you’ve already gotten your foot in the door and garnered some experience and made meaningful connections. Jen McGurk (RHM’s internship coordinator) has cultivated a fantastic partnership with the local hotels, and I promise it is totally worth it.”