Alexandra D. Barton
Hospitality ManagementDegree(s) earned at UCF and year degree(s) was/were conferred
Marriott Vacations Worldwide (Orlando, Florida)What do you do and how long have you been doing it?
Customer Care ManagerIn what ways are you involved in the community outside of work?
I volunteer through work: Children’s Miracle Network events, A Gift for Teaching.Were you a transfer student? From what school? How would you describe your transition to UCF? What advice would you give students transferring to UCF?
Yes. Rutgers University, New Brunswick Campus. My transition to UCF was easy--I started with a light load of credits. I would also encourage students to get involved in activities not school related.Did you work full or part time as a UCF student? How do you think this helped you when you were seeking a permanent position?
I worked full time for my current employer. This was difficult to balance work and school with little personal time but I came out ahead of other students who didn’t work as much. I advanced quicker in leadership roles and was the Manager overseeing my college peers on more than one occasion.What was your major? How did you determine your major? Did you change majors while at UCF?
My major was Hospitality Management, but I started out as Political Science. I was attracted to the ability to travel and work in beautiful places so I changed tracks.Are you working in the field of industry/business you thought you would? Is your career what you expected it would be? How is it different? How is it similar to what you expected?
I spent seven years in Resort Operations, eventually working on a regional level travelling the properties in Florida and the Caribbean region. Now, I am in a corporate position for the Customer Care department. I use my resort experience to help the owners with issues experienced on site.What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?
Be single. Enjoy being young. Be friends with people moving at your pace and that have similar goals. If you have successful people around you, they will push you along when you need support. Travel as much as possible.Would you hire your 20-year-old self? Why? Why Not?
I would hire myself at 20 with knowledge that some growth was in the future. I am driven, but I needed to learn to be more humble.What was the most valuable thing you learned at UCF?
I learned the most from visiting professionals in my classes. The real knowledge comes from someone who you want to emulate and seeing their path.What was the best advice you received from someone at UCF? Who gave you the advice?
I appreciated how one of the women at the Women’s Hospitality & Tourism Leadership Forum was very confident in herself and didn’t let her age or gender hold her back. Confidence is half of the battle, and I highly believe in “fake it til you make it.”What person or group had the biggest influence on you as a student? Why?
Vicki Lavendol was a huge support—even now, four years after graduation. She made a huge impact on me with regards to professionalism and helping others with success. It is nice to have a cheerleader who is proud of your success, and she is one of the people who taught me to “pay it forward.”Looking back, what are you most proud of about your time at UCF?
I am most proud of taking charge of a group project that had a less than cohesive group. I showed myself I can lead a team and get results under pressure when time is limited.What would you have done differently as a college student? Also, what good decisions did you make as a student?
I would have participated more in the organizations that were available. I wish I was in a sorority—something unrelated to school, but still an activity that created relationships. I am proud of the decision to work full time instead of getting too into the party scene. I am in a good place financially for my age, and I can enjoy vacations, which is why I am in this business to begin with.Did you participate in co-curricular activities, like undergraduate research? An internship? A fraternity or sorority? A club or organization? Student Government Association? What did you learn?
Hospitality had mandatory internships for which I was able to use my current job. I am still working for my company, and I have gained connections and mentors, which are invaluable.What was your most valuable experience outside of the classroom and why was it valuable for you?
Working hard and letting people know what your goals are is important. People are willing to help those in whom they see potential – even if it’s just for the sake of them liking you. When you work hard, people notice, and you never know who will make a phone call and endorse you. Word of mouth and good impressions are half of your portfolio.