Meet Rivka! A 2013 graduate from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore’s Hospitality and Tourism Management Program. Rivka is the Market Supervisor at Centrolina in downtown D.C. Learn about her experiences at USG and see what she is up to now.
Starting from when you began your program at USG, what steps did you take to get to where you are today in your career?
My decision to enroll in the Hotel and Restaurant program (now called Hospitality and Tourism Management) at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) at USG was a great decision. The small classes and hands-on experiences really helped me thrive and reach my full potential. It was important for me to get “my ducks in a row.” I knew I needed to figure out what my end goal was and how I was going to get there. I spent a lot of time networking and trying to meet the right people to get me to where I wanted to go.
Along the way those people became my mentors, and they had a profound effect on my life and career. I spent a lot of time asking questions, listening to their answers and observing them. They really helped me when I started evaluating my life decisions. I still keep in contact with my all of my mentors, including my program directors and instructors. They have opened so many doors and opportunities for me. I truly wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for the all the people I met while at USG. They will forever be my mentors and incredible women that I so admire. I want to publicly thank them for their continued support and encouragement, but more than anything, I want to thank them for taking a risk on me and helping me pave my career.
What do you do at your current job?
As the Market Supervisor at Centrolina in downtown DC, I do a little bit of everything. I’m in charge of making sure things run smoothly. I’m in charge of managing my staff’s productivity, making sure the store front is always presentable and packed to the brim with produce and products. I work with our butcher and sous-chef to make sure we’re packing enough prepared foods, and when need be, I jump behind the counter and bust out some delicious cappuccinos. Centrolina is an up and coming restaurant, so there are a lot of things that need to get done for it to run successfully and efficiently. Currently I’m in the process of creating a new training manual for our current staff and future employees.
How did your time at USG prepare you for your career?
UMES’s Hotel and Restaurant Management program (now called Hospitality and Tourism Management) really set me up for tremendous success. The majority of our classes and projects were hands-on in a work-ready environment. Every day in my job I find myself doing things I’ve already had practice with, such as writing out procedures, creating prep lists, understanding how certain systems work, managing and scheduling staff, working as a part of a culinary team, and most importantly ORGANIZATION. I can’t stress that enough. Organization is imperative to any career, but especially so in a career in the hospitality industry.
What was your most memorable experience at USG?
My most memorable experience at USG was being part of the Campus Kitchens Project (CKP). CKP is a national organization that empowers student volunteers to fight hunger in their community. The USG Campus Kitchen chapter consists of UMES students at the USG campus. I remember sitting in my first professional development class and the senior management team put together a presentation about the Campus Kitchen Project. Each month students prepared more than 200 nutritious meals for families in need and also led workshops to teach basic cooking skills, and even advocated for hunger awareness in Montgomery County.
After learning about CKP I told myself, “I. Will. Be. President.” When class ended I ran into the kitchen and pleaded to Chef Susan Callahan to be a part of it. I think my exact words were, “I don’t think you really understand my potential and what I can do for Campus Kitchens.” Well, low and behold, my senior year, I became President of CKP. During my term I wanted to put together a gala of some sort to raise more money than any other class previously had. My team and I petitioned for an event, and although it did not happen during my term we had laid the foundation of what would become the Dining with the Chefs event, which took place the following year. The first year of the event, in 2014, we raised $32,000 for the USG Campus Kitchens Chapter. That was probably my proudest moment. We decided to make this a bi-annual event and this year will be the second Dining with the Chefs event on April 18th. Centrolina will be donating all of the desserts. I can’t wait to go back and experience this event all over again.
In 140 characters or less, what message would you give to future graduates?
Dream big. Network. Find mentors. Be part of something that’s not only going to change your life, but also benefit someone else’s.