CIA bachelor’s graduate Chieyen Meachem seemingly did it all at the college. She was a member—and then president—of the Black Culinarian Society student club. She was a campus tour guide. She worked at least a dozen senior class charity events before finally serving as the general manager for her own Foodservice Management course event. She dove into every class with gusto.
But there was one thing she wished she had done better.
“As a student, I didn’t take the on-campus Career Fairs seriously enough,” Chieyen recalls. “So when I wasn’t immediately getting the job I wanted after graduation, I came back to a CIA Career Fair, talked to about 20 to 30 companies, and did around 10 interviews. One was Marriott International.”
That meeting changed her life. “I had learned about Marriott’s Voyager Program, an MIT experience through the company in which you get placed at a property,” she says. “So I did a three-part interview and ended up being one of five who were chosen and placed out of 200 applicants on the East Coast!”
Joining the Dynamic Hospitality World
Chieyen’s first assignment was a smaller hotel in Maryland, guiding all front-of-house and in-room dining operations. Not long after, she was moved to a much larger property right in Washington, DC—a jump from 268 rooms to well over a thousand! It was quite the challenge, but she was ready to meet it head-on.
“It was a union hotel, and the lessons I learned from Lynne Eddy’s Human Resource Management bachelor’s class were very valuable there,” Chieyen says. “She told us how to maneuver in a union environment. When I got to that hotel, I reviewed my class notes and realized this is everything she taught me! People tend to get complacent—‘It’s not my job.’ Professor Eddy had stressed the importance of knowing who you could ask to do something, know the contract, and be able to say ‘This is part of your job.’”
The experience—along with her CIA bachelor’s education—prepared her well for her current position at Marriott as food and beverage manager for Operations Support Resources. When hotels around the country need help, managers of those properties put in a request and the company dispatches Chieyen to support them.
Living Her Dream Career in Hospitality
“It’s very exciting—a new environment, meeting new teams. You need to hit the ground running and make it a seamless transition. I already have the knowledge they need, so I can fall right into helping them,” she explains. “I’ve been to so many places—San Francisco; Scottsdale, AZ; Newark, NJ; Dana Point, CA; Los Angeles; DC; Boston; Charlotte; San Diego. The travel aspect is amazing. I am completely in love with where I am in my career.”
And she’s ever-grateful for the skills and knowledge she gained as a bachelor’s student. “Every single day I use what I learned at the CIA. For the senior class charity dinner, I took so many notes—about things as complex as HVAC systems and as simple as ice machines. And I learned a lot about the money side of the business in Professor Murphy’s Financial Accounting course. I’ve been able to use all of that knowledge in my jobs.”
Chieyen strongly encourages other students to enroll in the bachelor’s program. “It opens up so many fields and areas of the industry to you,” she says. “You learn so much about financials, which no food company can live without. You have more on-campus time with other students, meeting in the townhouses, working on balance sheets, and learning from them. No question, it’s 100% worth it to do bachelor’s!”