Through the Lens of a Student, Written by Julia Fry, Student and Chapter President at Michigan State University

The Society for Hospitality and Food Service Management recently hosted its first-ever WISE Experience – a conference created for women, by women – to grow, learn and develop together. Taking place in Los Angeles Feb 28-29th, there were 120 professionals from the workplace hospitality and amenities industry.

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The SHFM WISE Experience was full of women empowerment and tactical strategies to help women excel in workplace hospitality. My main takeaways were how to overcome insecurities to unlock maximum potential, how to sponsor other women in the workplace, and how to address microaggressions. 

During the first session titled Dear Me, I learned that everyone has insecurities, but overcoming your insecurities and carrying yourself with confidence creates room for personal and professional growth. The discussion shed light on the fact that journeys are not linear and require effort to move past feeling imposter syndrome. 

At the WISE Experience, there was a buzz of support for each other in the air. Many of the speakers acknowledged their mentors and sponsors who contributed to the success of their careers. Intelligent women recognize that there is room at the table for all, and it is more powerful and productive to promote each other.

A major theme woven through the conference was claiming space. Part of claiming space is demanding respect and setting boundaries. I think most women are guilty of detecting a microaggression and not addressing it out of politeness. In round table discussions, I learned that it is acceptable to call out comments or behavior that is disrespectful. Whether these are small comments or actions that we usually shrug off as no big deal, can have an impact on your personal brand. 

I am excited to see what the next WISE Experience will bring! 

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