Todd Robbins, ’11 has had quite a journey since graduation just five years ago, from working in Orlando’s nightlife scene to planning events for a presidential candidate. In his own words, he shares how his undergraduate experience prepared him to conquer change and new challenges.
Can you describe your career journey since graduating from UCF’s Rosen College?
I’ve been keeping busy since graduating in 2011! During my last semester of college and the following year, I worked as the assistant general manager of a bar/club on the east side of Orlando where I met my wife, Jessi, who also worked there and is a 2013 graduate of UCF’s Rosen College. Shortly thereafter, I got a job as a front desk agent at Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel. Shingle Creek is a great stepping stone for all Rosen College students. While working at the hotel, I was contracted to manage the artist and press-only yacht at Ultra Music Festival 2013. Now, that was an experience!
As time went on, I needed a change; a big one might I add. I resigned from my position at Shingle Creek, and Jessi and I packed up and moved to New York together. We both took summer job positions at Tyler Hill Camp in the Pennsylvania Poconos. That summer, I worked as the assistant food service director, helping oversee food service for 800+ people for the 51-day season. Without being aware, the position at Tyler Hill turned into the interview of a lifetime. My every move that summer was part of the “interview process.” I was introduced to Tyler Hill’s executive director midway through the summer while I was on a visit to Timber Lake Camp, his home base. We had a quick conversation and once the summer was over, I went in for a formal interview. A few months later, I accepted a position working full-time at North Shore Day Camp and have been there ever since.
I have been able to utilize the many skills that I learned in my communication and management classes at Rosen and apply them daily when talking to parents, staff and campers, along with overseeing different departments at camp. Almost three years into the position, I’ve had the privilege of planning many events for our “off-season” business. Among those events were several fundraisers for former Secretary of State and presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton, one of which I am currently in the process of planning. The event is expected to host more than 500 guests, including high-ranking political officials, celebrities and fortune 500 CEOs.
What’s your favorite thing you’ve been able to do so far in your career?
It’s hard to choose a favorite. I truly enjoy each and every part of my job! I think one of my favorite things so far in my career is to be able to walk around the property and reflect, “I had something to do with that project” or “Wow, that was a great thing I was a part of.” As we continue to build and update our property, it’s great to see what changes have been implemented since I’ve been on board. Every change allows for a better summer for each and every one of our campers, which is what matters most!
How did your experience at Rosen College prepare you for the industry and your current role?
I began my first year and a half at UCF as a Finance major with a minor in Marketing. I’m glad I made the switch. As a hospitality student and employee, you are given the opportunity to put a smile on people’s faces. This is something I just couldn’t resist.
Learning from professors with 15+ years of first-hand experience at great companies, such as Disney and Universal, is also a plus. I was exposed to topics that I never thought I would need to know or use in everyday life, but that was proven untrue. I keep the tools from Rosen close to my heart; they helped me grow as an individual and gave me the tools needed to work in the hospitality industry.
What was your favorite part about attending Rosen College?
One of my fondest memories is driving to and from UCF’s main campus with my friends listening to music and enjoying the beautiful weather. In all seriousness, my favorite thing about Rosen College was the small, tight-knit classes and community. You feel that everyone cares from the first time you step on campus. Unlike a lot of my friends at other colleges across the country, I had the ability to talk to my teachers whenever I needed something. They gave feedback on a more personal level rather than via e-mail or office hours. I liked that. I enjoyed that the professors knew my name and I also enjoyed having classmates who were similar, like-minded individuals who were there to learn about the hospitality industry.
Do you think your degree gives you a competitive advantage compared to your peers? How so?
I really do believe that having completed courses like hospitality communications, hospitality finance, restaurant management and even the sanitation course gave me an upper hand. I was able to understand how to communicate more effectively with individuals in the business world as opposed to someone who went to school for accounting and learned solely the art of accounting. I was able to take many of the tools I learned at Rosen College and implement them into my job.
What advice would you give to current and potential Rosen College students?
I would tell them not to take it for granted. Not one bit of it. If you get the great opportunity to go to Rosen, you are putting yourself in a great place. Rosen was recently listed as one of the top five hospitality programs in the WORLD. The school deserves it. As I said before, the administrative staff and professors genuinely care about each and every student. UCF is a phenomenal university, so be sure you support its athletics and go to class. It will only help the school continue to grow and develop into an even better institution than it already is!
“Do it now. Later may become never.”
To meet other Rosen College alumni and find out what they’ve been doing since graduation, please visit hospitality.ucf.edu/our-alumni.