When Ediza Koch arrived at Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU), she had two goals: to find her career path and see the world. It didn’t take her long to accomplish both — and gain valuable experience to boot.
“Going to FDU was the best decision I’ve ever made,” says Ediza. “I didn’t just find a major here. I found the world!”
Finding a Career
Ediza started thinking seriously about attending FDU after a campus visit, where she learned about opportunities like study abroad. “I wanted to see the world. That was a priority for me,” she says.
She entered FDU as an undecided business major. Ultimately, though, FDU’s hospitality program proved to be the right fit.
“I met with the program director, who explained the program in detail to me,” says Ediza. She also was encouraged to take some hospitality classes and participate in bi-weekly lab meetings with hospitality students working on event planning.
One pivotal course was “Career Orientation and Professional Development.” “It gave me a great overview of hospitality management careers,” she says. “I quickly realized it’s the field for me: I like working in a fast-paced environment with a team. I love being hands-on and being around people.”
Ediza officially switched her major to hospitality and tourism management. She also decided to minor in Spanish. “I knew a second language would be an advantage in my career,” she says.
Seeing the World
During her sophomore year, Ediza realized her dream of studying abroad — spending six months in Madrid at FDU’s partner school: Universidad Alfonso X el Sabio. Her studies included courses in Spanish and international relations.
“Going abroad is an amazing experience,” she says, “My main goal was to learn the language, but I learned so much about Spanish history, culture and politics.”
Ediza returned home in June and immediately headed to Mexico for a summer internship at The Mermaid Hostel Beach in Cancun. The job fulfilled the hospitality program’s requirement of a summer work experience and enabled her to practice her Spanish. In addition to earning academic credit, she received a stipend for food and free accommodations at the hostel, which she describes as being similar to a small, boutique hotel.
“I did a little of everything — answering phones, checking in guests, managing paperwork, and housekeeping duties,” says Ediza. She also spent time working alongside the owners, which allowed her to talk to them about their business. “I learned a lot about the industry,” she says.
“Traveling enhanced my learning,” she adds. “In Spain, I was able to build on my language comprehension. In Mexico, I was living it and using it every day in the hospitality business. That will definitely be an advantage when I become a manager.”
Building Her Résumé
Although she’s just beginning her junior year, Ediza already has built an extensive résumé that includes leadership positions and work experience closer to home.
As a sophomore, Ediza served as a student ambassador for FDU’s Admissions Office. She currently serves as director of committees for the FDU Hotel Society, treasurer of the FDU Chapter of the Club Managers Association of America and president of FDU’s Barkada Filipino Club.
Ediza credits the hospitality program for helping her to gain real-world work experience. “That’s what makes the program so special: the professors with their industry experience and connections, coupled with an extensive network of alumni,” she says.
She found her first internship at the Alpine Country Club in Demarest, N.J., after attending a job fair where she handed her résumé to the manager — a graduate of FDU’s hospitality program. In fall 2019, she began working as a hospitality ambassador at The Shops at Columbus Circle in Manhattan — a job she landed while still in Mexico with the help of her professor, Sandra Bleckman.
“Their connections are so valuable and make it easier for students to find job opportunities,” says Ediza. “It gave me experience and a taste of the industry and how it fits in my future.”
Fairleigh Dickinson University has two campuses in northern New Jersey: Metropolitan Campus (Teaneck) and Florham Campus (Madison), and international campuses in Wroxton, England, and Vancouver, Canada. Learn more at fdu.edu.