She started her career trajectory in high school, but has had her eye on the hospitality industry since she was very young, earning some extra allowance in her grandparents’ general store stocking shelves and, apparently, helping them manage what must have been problematic surpluses of candy by eating it.
“I was so young, my contributions were minimal, to say the least,” she joked. “I was stocking shelves with pop or eating candy.”
She’s come a long way to her current position at the Inn where she maintains relationships with clients and groups that come to stay here on the island. She says she’s not intimidated by the age of the establishment, nor with the length of the relationships some clients have with the Inn – some of them longer than she is old.
That may be because of her extensive education and experience in the hospitality industry, for which she began working while she was at Lemon Bay High School.
“I took a chance and dropped off a resumé at the Manasota Beach Club,” she said. “Thankfully they welcomed me with open arms. It’s a small property that’s family-owned, and the general manager really took me under her wing.”
She assisted with all aspects of resort operations including handling reservations, preparing ledgers for club members, decorating the buffet, even dressing up as the Easter Bunny at least once (hopefully on or around Easter). She would return to the Manasota Beach Club to work for two more summers, various breaks and vacations and during her transition from college to her position at the Inn.
She admitted she was excited and even anxious to get her foot in the door even as a high school student, and so when she matriculated at UCF she began their hospitality and management program at UCF’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management, which had its own smaller campus.
Jamie was happy to attend a smaller satellite campus with only 3,500 students, rather than the main campus which, she said, has the second largest student body in the country.
Small school, small town. That seems to be a theme for Jamie. Silver Creek, where she grew up and where her grandparents owned a general store, was a small town – the kind of place where everyone knew everyone else. Sounds familiar.
Her parents eventually took over the store but when Jamie was 12, they moved to Englewood to escape the brutal Buffalo winters, she said.
Jamie attended L.A. Ainger Middle School for a year and then went to Lemon Bay. She was president of their business club, served as junior class vice president and was involved with the student council and National Honor Society. One of her responsibilities as VP of the junior class was to plan the prom, which is held at the Inn’s beach club. She now works with some of the same teachers and faculty planning their own proms.
“I really made it full circle working at the Inn and planning prom,” she laughed.
She was very active with organizations and clubs in college, too. At the advisement of some older friends, she joined the Kappa Delta sorority and chaired, among other things, their Shakedown event, one of the largest parts of her sorority’s philanthropy effort, that raised $12,000 for child abuse prevention and 15,000 supply items to donate to Orlando schools.
As chairperson she dealt with everything from graphics, to the event script, to MC duties and finally to sponsors.
Jamie said that, aside from the great satisfaction she got from being involved with a philanthropy event, she believes her experience with the Shakedown event helped her get some of her bigger undergraduate internships, during which she continued her hospitality preparation and training. The first was, she said, a good start. She worked the front desk of an area hotel.
But the next summer she worked with the Orlando Magic shortly after their move to the Amway Center.
Jamie worked for the sales manager for the Orlando Magic and helped manage clients’ experiences, again at every level, whether that was high- end suites and accommodations or helping someone find a particular item or vendor in that vast arena.
“You felt like you had the navigation down,” she said, “until you got a new request you couldn’t have prepared for, and then you’d go on an adventure to locate honey mustard or Italian ice.”The adventures, condiment-related and otherwise, would continue. She said her third internship, for the New York City parks and recreation department’s special events and marketing division, was her most memorable.
She spent a summer living in Manhattan and served on a team of eight people who handled marketing, citywide.
“The majority of our marketing programs were targeted towards the well-being of New Yorkers,” she said. “The project that we worked on while I was there was for Adventures NYC.”
It brought more than 10,000 attendees to Central Park to see exhibitions by professional rock climbers, trampolinists and others and to experience outdoor and adventure-type activities, as well as live entertainment.
She said that while New York was intimidating at first, she felt right at home by the end of the summer, and that is, to date, one of her fondest experiences, even if things didn’t always go smoothly. One of the events she was involved in was a concert to benefit the Robin Hood Foundation that – after all the planning and work and after 65,000 admission tickets had been given out – had to be canceled at the last moment, literally, as they were about to open the gates and let everyone in. An enormous lightning bolt shot across the sky, and it was called off.
She might have found herself returning to New York City after she graduated, cum laude, but she learned about an opportunity at the Inn at a career fair and, after taking a tour, she was impressed, to say the least.
She said she’s also happy to be close to friends from LBHS and UCF as well as her family, many of whom still live in Englewood.
She took a position with the Inn in December 2011, and spent much of her first few months there shadowing various managers and even putting in hours on the hostess stand at “The Pink.”
“I did a little bit of everything,” she said. “I started from the ground up.”
She took a position with the catering department dealing with weddings, corporate and social events in April 2012 and served there until June when she became sales manager.
And after such an inspired career track, Jamie may have to remind herself to take some time to relax.
She’s been getting into refinishing antique furniture, she said, in her pursuit of the perfectly decorated apartment.
She also said she loves to travel and had some truly memorable experiences this summer on a trip to Banff National Park with her boyfriend, Chris.
She had an opportunity to appreciate the most minute details and touches during her visit to the Chateau Lake Louise and the Banff Springs Hotel, she said, because that resort also has a very long and rich history.
She also “took a stab” at hiking, while she was there, in the Canadian Rockies.
“I saw the pictures of the view from the top of the Big Beehive and jokingly said ‘Let’s go do this,’” she said. Chris said, ‘Let’s go tomorrow,’ and I said, ‘Hold on. Let’s look in to this, see how far it is, maybe what the elevation gain is, what sort of condition the trails are in.’ I was more focused on the logistics.”
She said she’s thankful for Chris’ spontaneous push because everything – the six-hour hike, the elevation changes, the thin air – were worth it when she saw the view of Lake Louise from the mountains above.
That kind of spontaneity may come a little harder to someone like Jamie, whose whole career seems to require incredible attention to detail and planning. But given how well she seems to handle the challenges she’s faced already, mixing in a little relaxation and spontaneity probably won’t be too hard to handle.
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