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Spotlight on Rachel Ihasz

Monday, April 27, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Jennifer Trumper
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Rachel Ihasz is a student member of ACCED-I and was recently awarded a scholarship that would have allowed her to attend the Annual Conference. While we weren’t able to connect in Providence, she is planning to join us in 2021! Rachel will be graduating in May with a double major in Hospitality/Tourism Management and Theater from Flagler College, where she is the Lead Special Events Intern in the Office of Special Events. Connect with Rachel on LinkedIn to see what she conquers next!

What started your interest in collegiate conferencing and events as a student? I started college with just a theater major until I learned more about the new hospitality degree. I began working with the Office of Special Events at the end of my sophomore year. I started as an intern for Summer Camps and Conferences, which is when I really learned I enjoyed this side of event planning. I originally thought I would want to plan weddings, but the more I experienced all the different kind of campus-wide events that the office put on such as our Founder’s Day or the Crimson and Gold Banquet/Fundraiser, the more I fell in love with it.  

What was one key takeaway you learned from your involvement with ACCED-I? My bosses were very adamant about how beneficial ACCED-I and the Annual Conference was for networking and learning opportunities. ACCED-I has been very resourceful for me with content from their emails and more currently, the COVID webinar series. I was able to attend some and learn about different experiences currently happening. I’m grateful my scholarship can be rolled over to next year so I can meet up with colleagues I’ll no longer work with and attend sessions to learn more in-depth strategies for events.

What is the best advice you ever received?

During preparation for my theater fall capstone performance, my acting teacher and director told me “Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Mistakes give us information and information lets us learn.”  I have this quote hanging in my room to remind me that mistakes shouldn’t be viewed in a negative light, but rather to look at it more positively about what happened and what I can learn from it for next time.   

What advice would you give to a student who is just starting in the position you held?

There’s going to be a lot of new information at the beginning. The best thing you can do is absorb it, ask questions, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. It’s better to know than not know and make mistakes that are easy to avoid. Try to be more extroverted when learning to keep asking questions and learn what will be expected of you. Absorb everything you can and know that once you start doing it, it becomes routine.

Do you have a mentor or colleague that you look up to for guidance?

100%.  Lauren Pruett was the Assistant Director of College Relations when I was hired. She recently moved to Washington, DC and is now the Assistant Director of Program Initiatives in the Center for Student Involvement at American University. We’re very similar and she’s someone I look up to. She’s a mentor both personally and professionally.  She always took the time for me, held me to a high standard, and pushed me to do my best work because she knew everything that I was capable of. She taught me everything I know.  

Describe something that you did at work that you are most proud of.

This past Fall semester was the peak of my college career, where I was working on both of my capstones at the same time. For my Hospitality capstone project, another Special Event Intern, Julie Curiel, and I successfully planned and executed Founder’s Day, which is part of Flagler’s Saints Weekend where parents come to participate in family bonding events and see their child over a 3-day weekend. Founder’s Day was a student event held on Thursday, September 26th, and had over 500 participants throughout the day at a variety of our 70’s themed events. We had a tie-dye station on the West Lawn, a coffee break that our President spoke at, and a student obstacle course in the evening. We coordinated and communicated with both internal and external vendors and partners for this event. It was incredible and gratifying to see it all come together. I feel so grateful that the full-time staff put their faith in us, as students, to completely take the lead on this event.

Check out the Founder’s Day highlight video!

What do you love most about your job?

My team. I work with people who work hard and are passionate about what they do. They keep students at the center of their work and we truly work as a team to get everything done. It means everything to me to be surrounded by people who genuinely care about their interns and fellow employees and put out the best events that they could possibly create. 

What do you like least about your job?

There seems to be a misunderstanding of the event planning profession from outside stakeholders about how much work goes into creating successful events and the time needed to fully execute some tasks.

Is there anything else you would like to add about your student membership in ACCED-I?

I’m grateful that my bosses told me about ACCED-I. I would have loved to hear about it from some of my hospitality professors. It’s a really great organization that a lot of students could benefit from learning about. I’m looking forward to staying involved!