Many of you might ask: “How did a college freshman with no hospitality experience end up working for one of the most luxurious, high end hotels in the United States?”

The answer: By asking nicely.

After searching on Handshake, LinkedIn, and pretty much every job site for any kind of learning or internship opportunity that would accept a freshman in college, I realized pretty quickly that I  was going to have to make my own luck. Determined to work in Nashville’s booming entertainment and hospitality industry, I made a list of every hotel and entertainment experience in the area. I called 47 hotels and 3 entertainment experiences, asking for a position from anyone who would answer. Out of the 50 potential employers, 10 followed up with me and 3 offered me an interview. Many never returned my calls and several told me I did not have enough experience for the industry. I became discouraged by the continued denial and constant reminder of my lack of experience. I was nearing just returning to my old summer job when I received a call from Ms. Bailey Heidhues, Director of Talent Management at the JW Marriott Nashville. I had called the JW Marriott on a whim and expected that such an incredible hotel would never consider me, but was pleasantly surprised to find that my voicemail asking for a position was returned with enthusiasm and support. Ms. Heidhues understood the  desire to enter into my career field early and immediately sent me a request to apply. Shocked that the most high-end hotel in Nashville would even consider me, I immediately put my game face on and was determined to earn this job.

When applying and preparing to interview for this position, I was going through pledgeship and was taught how to present myself to employers. I traveled to Nashville for the interview with my best suit, a little bit of luck, and armed with the training I had been given all semester long. Without the professional training I received from Alpha Kappa Psi, I would not have made as good of a first impression as I did and would not have gotten the amazing job I have today. I later discovered that John Willard Marriott, founder of the Marriott Corporation, was a member of the Beta Mu chapter of Alpha Kappa Psi. It is incredible to see how one professional business leader created the brand that I was fortunate enough to be applying for that day. Looking back, it seems as if I had a brother looking out for me all along.

When I found out I earned a position at the JW Marriott Nashville, I was beyond excited and proud of this accomplishment. I was going to get to learn about the industry I want to work in at such a high caliber at the age of 19. All because I asked. During the application process I learned that having the courage to ask and the spirit to reach for the moon will land you among the stars. I am incredibly lucky and blessed to call the JW Marriott Nashville home for the summer, and I hope that if you got to the end of this article, you’ll have the courage to apply for that internship you don’t think you’ll get or reach for something no one believes you can accomplish. 

Take the first step. Ask nicely, and you will be rewarded. 


Catherine Besand is a sophomore majoring in marketing with big dreams of working in entertainment and hospitality. She is in the Million Dollar Band Color Guard and will serve as Recruitment Chair and Parliamentarian for Alpha Rho this coming year. Catherine loves to volunteer with children’s organizations, work with Culverhouse Connections as a member of their Student Leadership Board, and attend American Marketing Association meetings to learn more about the industry she wants to enter into. Catherine loves a challenge and is always in search of the next opportunity to excel. If you need to find her, she’ll either be studying in Gorgas Library, performing at Bryant-Denny Stadium, or riding every ride at Walt Disney World. ​


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