May 9, 2022

Introducing the Tisch Center's Advocate Program: Student-led Personalized Mentorship

Founded in 2020 by graduate student Neema Kamala (MS in Event Management), the Hospitality, Tourism, and Events Society’s (HTES) Advocate Program offers students a unique opportunity for valuable mentorship as they move forward in their career. Run by HTES in collaboration with the Tisch Center of Hospitality faculty, the Advocate Program serves as a means for students to grow their professional networks and further their academic and professional goals. Launched at the beginning of each semester, students are matched with industry professionals to work with for the duration of the semester. While the program is operated through the Tisch Center of Hospitality, all SPS graduate students are welcome to apply. 

According to current Advocate Program Coordinator and graduate student Alejandro Almaguer Garcia, students are carefully matched with advocates who best align with the student’s focus and professional goals. These industry experts are sourced from the professional networks of faculty and fellow students and provide program participants with a range of support. This semester, 20 students were able to participate in the program, including Dana Rowitz, a graduate student pursuing an MS in Global Hospitality Management. Dana and her program advocate, Dayna Zeitlin - Director of Sales and Marketing at Sofitel New York, meet every week at Pret a Manger coffee shop to discuss Dana’s career development. Below, Dana and Dayna provide insight into their experiences in the program.

What made you want to participate in the program?

Dana, Student: I moved across the country and started my graduate program at NYU in January. I graduated from my undergrad a semester early in December 2021 and jumped right into life in New York City. I found myself struggling with moving across the country, starting over, and overall feeling anxious about my future career plans and goals. I applied for the program because I needed help navigating a postgrad career life while also seeking another degree. 

Dayna, Advocate: Whether graduate or undergrad, senior year for a college student can be overwhelming with pressure, uncertainty, and many life changes.I have a passion for working with students, helping them understand and clearly see their full potential while providing guidance on how best to manage when our desired plan may not go as intended.

How did you get matched with Dayna?

Dana, Student: The process to apply for the program was incredibly easy, all you had to do was fill out a short survey that included your interests. Some of my interests included luxury hospitality, sales, and events which makes sense as to why I was paired with Dayna.

What impact has the Advocate Program had on you?

Dana, Student: The advocate program was one of my favorite parts of my semester. Dayna was extremely helpful when it came to career advice, resume review, creating a cover letter, and overall just really helped me navigate being in a new city, at a new school, while trying to figure out what my career goals were. It really helps to have a mentor that is outside of the classroom space.

Being in a graduate program is already stressful enough, but Dayna made our meetings fun and seamless. It always felt like we didn’t have enough time (even though we met once a week). 

What is your goal as an advocate?

Dayna, Advocate: As an unbiased supporter, I seek to create a comfortable space for a mentee to ask any questions and discuss topics related to their career goals. My goal is to enhance their knowledge and provide actionable guidance for them to further develop and achieve desired goals. 

What recommendations do you have for students joining the program?

Dana, Student: For future students joining the program, the number one thing that I can recommend is to be honest with your mentor. Like most things in life, you only get out what you put in. Leading with honesty about your career goals, current work situation, or whatever it may be will help your mentor give you the best advice that is aligned with what you’re looking for.

Dayna, Advocate: Try to identify at least 2 to 3 goals that you have and/or topics that you wish to cover. Take some quiet time and prepare a list of related questions for your first meeting. Come with an open mind and be prepared to talk about yourself, a lot. Have fun along the way.

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