Katie LeForce graduated in 2019 with a Master’s in Tourism Management from the Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality. She is currently the Finance Manager at Arrangements Abroad, a private tour operator focused exclusively on the educational and cultural segments of the travel industry.
What has your journey been like after graduating NYU?
I knew that I wanted to work for a tour operator after graduating, so while I was at NYU I started interning for Arrangements Abroad, in the client services department, to start gaining experience in the field. Since it is a close-knit, family-owned company, I was able to get to know each department well, and upper management was aware of my desire to eventually work in the tour operations department. During my final semester at NYU, there was an opening in the operations department, and they offered me the opportunity to come on full time. It has been great ever since! I worked in the operations department for about a year after graduating from NYU, then had another opportunity to transition into the finance department within the company. Since July 2020, I have been in the Finance Manager role at Arrangements Abroad, and have been able to learn the ins and outs of the business, which is a rare opportunity for someone still relatively new to the industry.
Can you talk about your current role at Arrangements Abroad?
Currently, I am the Finance Manager. I set up a brand new accounting system for the firm when I started in this role, using Quickbooks, and worked with our upper management to create new financial processes, as well as work out the kinks in the old ones. I ran financial analyses on the trips that ran before the pandemic halted our operations, as well as on those trips that were postponed to future dates when we can jump back into the world of travel. Additionally, I work with my colleagues to ensure that our vendors outside of the company, such as independent contractors, hotels, land operators, etc., get paid on time.
However, we are now hiring someone to take over my finance role, so that I can get back to what I am passionate about, which is tour operations. Taking a trip that was created by one of our amazing tour developers and ensuring that the timing is correct, the transportation is settled, rooms and upgrades are booked, and everything is in place before our guests even leave their home is what I am looking forward to getting back to! Especially setting up the special access and events that our company is known for wowing our guests with.
What are you passionate about in the work that you do?
For as long as I can remember, I have loved traveling and learning about the culture surrounding me. Being able to work with others that feel that same passion about the world is amazing, and I feel so lucky to be a part of this team. Arrangements Abroad creates itineraries to destinations all over the world, and each trip has special access to places that our guests would not be able to experience without us. Helping to create those experiences that our travelers will remember forever is such a cool part of my job and I love being able to work on lasting experiences like these.
In what ways has your NYU experience had an impact on your career and shaped who you are today?
If it was not for NYU, I would not be in the position I am in today. It was through a professor (Sharr Prohaska) in my first semester that I was able to get my first internship in New York City, and through the NYU career services that I heard about my current company for the first time. My advisor and professors all offered great advice for interviewing, future steps and were always available for any assistance or guidance. NYU opened my eyes to all of the different opportunities within the hospitality and tourism industries, where my focus was narrower before taking these classes. Learning about the different subjects, anywhere from Destination Marketing to Sports Tourism, helped me to develop skills and thoughts that I carry with me in my daily life today.
What career advice would you give to NYU students?
Use your NYU network! Every professor that I had experience with wanted us all to succeed and do well in our fields. Speaking with them during office hours or before/after classes was incredibly helpful, sometimes even looking at job postings together to see what was available in different areas - both within the industry and geographically! My professors also guided me in reaching out to other NYU alumni to talk about their experiences with different companies within the field. Creating those relationships is one of the most valuable experiences that I had in my few years in the Master’s program at NYU, and would advise those starting the program now to not shy away from doing the same.