When in Rome
When in Rome or the Amalfi Coast, or anywhere else, hospitality and tourism management student Topaz Smith ’14 immerses herself in culture.
For some, the idea of travel consists of comfortable hotels, accommodating tour guides, and getting to know different cultures. But for hospitality and tourism management student Topaz Smith ’14, traveling means education through cultural immersion.
Last spring, through a connection with Claudia Green, PhD, director of the hospitality and tourism program at Pace, Smith interned at Le Sirenuse, a luxury boutique hotel in Positano, located on Italy’s Amalfi Coast. As a front desk intern, she operated the hotel’s switchboard, took reservations, and handled reception, clients, and more. She also helped host high-profile guests like CEOs and celebrities.
This unique internship gave her a hands-on opportunity to learn Italian hotel business, as well as Italian language and culture as a whole. “I worked in a different language from my native, which was nothing short of motivational because of the challenge,” she says. “Everything was Italian. I worked in Italian, lived in an Italian village. I got infused in the culture; I had to speak Italian on a daily basis.”
Although Smith wasn’t fluent in the language before her trip, attending an international high school afforded her the opportunity to study Portuguese, French, Spanish, and Japanese, as well as gain a passion for travel at a young age. Ultimately, her interest in culture is what prompted her to go after an internship in a foreign language.
But she says taking a couple of Italian courses at Pace prepared her for the experience, as well as studying in Rome for a semester at John Cabot University during the fall before her internship. “That helped me understand the Italian culture and how to engage in conversation with locals and foreigners. [From] the customer service aspect, you need that on a daily basis. You need to be able to converse with people from different backgrounds and cultures,” she says.
Since returning to the states, Smith has been getting a taste of American hotel business through two internships. One at Gild Hall, a Thompson Hotel near Pace, as a room division intern, which involves rotating between the front desk, housekeeping, and executive sales departments to learn the ins-and-outs of the industry. She acquired this position by taking initiative after the general manager of the hotel visited her management class and gave her his card.
Her second internship is at FoodForce, a boutique food industry staffing agency, as a marketing and social media intern. Instead of simply taking marketing classes at Pace, Smith wanted an experience-based understanding of the industry, so she sought out a marketing internship through the Career Services’ eRecruiting website. “I’m just trying to get as much experience as I can before graduation,” she says.
While she may have been enjoying home, sweet home, Smith took no time in planning her follow-up overseas adventure. She travelled to southern Brazil with Professor Green and the International Management Field Study class over spring break to study Brazil’s sustainability in tourism and business, update the green map, interview locals on their feelings toward the 2016 Olympics, and more. “As people travel more, they may damage places. People can travel, but also keep the world’s natural resources intact,” she says.
But of all her worldly travels and opportunities, she thanks Pace for making them happen. “I tell people that I lived in Italy for seven months and they’re amazed that I’m still in college. I feel that Pace is a school that prepares its students. I’m really glad I took advantage of all the opportunities it afforded me.”
- Academic Programs
- Academic Calendar
- Academic Advisement
- Advising Center for Exploring Majors
- Athletics and Recreation
- Career Services
- Center for Academic Excellence (CAE)
- Center for Community Action and Research (CCAR)
- Class Schedule
- Colleges and Schools
- Computer Labs
- Dining Services
- Disabilities and Accommodations
- Extended Hours for Students
- Financial AId
- Global Pathways
- Health Services
- Housing and Residential Life
- ITS Help Desk
- International Students
- LGBTQA Center
- New Student IT Resources
- Office of First Year Experience
- Office of Multicultural Affairs, NYC
- Office of Student Assistance (OSA)
- Pace One Card
- PaceAlert System
- Pforzheimer Honors College
- Safety and Security
- Scholarships and Grants
- Sexual Assault Resources
- Student Development and Campus Activities (NYC)
- Student Development and Campus Activities (PLV)
- Student Grievance Procedures
- Student Handbook
- Student Health Insurance
- Student IT Resources
- Student Organizations and Clubs
- Study Abroad
- Summer Session
- Transfer Student Services
- Tutoring Center
- White Pages
- Writing Center
- Emergency Notifications
- Schedule Explorer
- Textbook Lookup Utility
Pace Law is offering a free two-night LSAT boot camp on Wednesday, June 27, and Thursday, June 28, on the Law School Campus. Register today!
Summer 2018 LSAT Boot Camp
Have you ever been whale watching? On Friday, May 18, you'll get the chance to meet one of nature's most majestic creatures—and work with NYC's Whale Research and Advocacy Organization, too!
Science at Sea (NYC)
Daniella Pajonas ’19 is the co-founder and current co-president of the Queer Society, a queerleader for the LGBTQA and Social Justice Center, and an RA on the NYC Campus. With all that experience, she has plenty of advice for her fellow Setters!