This year, Kendall students from the Event Practicum Class, had the opportunity to design a tablescape for the Chicago Flower & Garden Show at Navy Pier. The theme this year was, Flowertales: Every Garden has a Story to Tell. The class chose to design a tablescape based off the book, The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. In this interview, Amanda Fowler, a hospitality student who participated in designing the tablescape, reflects on the opportunity that Kendall provided her with and insights into what she learned from this project.
Q: What were your initial thoughts when you heard about this project?
A: I was excited because it’s an opportunity I don’t think I would have been afforded outside of Kendall. It was a once in a lifetime chance to be an exhibitor at such a young and early stage in my own event planning career, so I felt very lucky.
Q:What is something you learned from this project that will help you throughout the rest of your time at Kendall and beyond?
A: It was neat to see how people in the hospitality industry interact with one another and how they carry themselves professionally. It made me more aware on how I should present myself when I speak, dress and work in a professional setting. I also now understand why Kendall stresses the importance of networking and making connections in this industry. This event allowed me to get in touch with the founder of the Shakespeare Botanical Foundation based in London. It’s a connection that I am grateful for and hope to have for the rest of my life.
Q: Who would you go to for advice or guidance when it came to a topic you had no idea where to start?
A: Whenever I needed guidance, I would go to Christine Franz, the Director of Events at Kendall College, who gave me her advice and direction on proposals, business plans and budgeting. For any creative aspects, I would go to my peer Dee, my fellow classmate who would make my visions more practical and tangible.
Q: Did you learn anything about yourself during this project?
A: I learned how to conduct myself in a professional way amongst my own peers by being more cognizant in the way I speak to people. I’m naturally a leader so it’s easy for me to completely overlook someone’s idea. I quickly learned firsthand that it’s not okay to be that way and knew I had to work on that aspect of myself. Towards the end, I would say I became more of a team player.
Q: What advice would you give to students who will find themselves faced with a similar opportunity in a class?
A: Keep an open mind and an open heart. Take every opportunity for all that it is because all you can do at the end of the day, is utilize yourself to maximize what you can get out of that opportunity. If you’re going to be coming into the industry as a student, always remember you are living your own brand and your own name. Everything that you do now, whether you think it’s not that big of a deal or you don’t think it’s that serious, doesn’t mean that in a few years you won’t get some sort of advantage because you partook in that opportunity. When you’re in classes that give you real world projects – think of them as career launching opportunities because these are the kind of experiences you can use to talk about when you go to interviews.
Q: What can a student expect when they graduate from Kendall, because of these practical learning experiences?
A: In a school like Kendall, you will be immersed in the industry so when you’re out in the real world, you won’t feel like you were just thrown into the field. You will have all the tools to succeed before you even graduate, which is how I feel because of the opportunity my classmates and I were given.
Visit blog.growitmobile.com, to read more about Amanda’s perspective on the 2018 Chicago Flower & Garden Show and what went into the planning and successful execution of their tablescape.