Jordan Lacey '16 Harnesses the Power of Networking

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In late March, Jordan Lacey '16, CMP, was gearing up to begin her dream job, a position in corporate events at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in New York City. With much of the city and country at a standstill from COVID-19, she would be starting her new position virtually. But for Lacey, an ambitious multi-tasker, adapting online to a new job and employer was going to be all in a day’s work.

Lacey started JWU at 17 through the university’s Early Enrollment Program (EEP) while also completing her senior year of high school. She was accepted into the Honors Program and finished her degree in under 3 years. Simultaneously, she completed 3 internships, worked at various jobs, was involved with the Student Government Association, and managed Light The Candle, a non-profit she started while in high school.

Foster Care Advocate
After finding out that two of her cousins had been adopted through foster care, Lacey wanted to do something positive for foster children. She came up with the idea of creating and sending homemade birthday and holiday cards to them. “If we can do one thing with these cards … we want these kids to know that you can do anything in the world … just because you’re in foster care [that] doesn’t define you.”

Lacey started the organization in central New Jersey, where she lived, and from there, it has thrived. The idea spread to my girl scout troop, then my dance studio, and just continued to spiral.” She promoted Light The Candle at JWU and other colleges that friends attended and spoke to various groups in RI and NJ including sororities, fraternities, high schools, boy scouts, girl scouts and churches.

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Her work through Light The Candle has not gone unnoticed. Lacey has been honored with the Presidential Community Service Award, Leadership Rhode Island’s 2016 Emerging Leader Award, Kohl’s Cares for Kids New Jersey, and as a semi-finalist for the HOBY (Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership) Outstanding Young Alumni Award.

Standout JWU Student
As a Sports, Entertainment, Event — Management (SEEM) major, Lacey began ramping up for her career during her first year at JWU. She loved events and wasted no time getting as much experience as possible.

In her first year, she interned with the Providence Bruins, helping with game day operations, marketing and fan experience. Planning ahead for her next internship, she attended one of JWU’s career fairs.

“I was able to network … get my work ethic and my desire, my eagerness to learn out there,” said Lacey, who landed her next internship with the Big Apple Circus. She researched sponsorship grants, met with vendors, created press materials and dealt with high profile celebrities.

Next, Lacey networked her way into a job with Beyond The Stars Dance Competition. “It was unique because the dance competition company set up events every weekend and toured all around the East Coast.” For 18 months, she left Providence after class on Thursday and caught a red-eye flight or train back in time for class on Monday.

Hoping to gain experience more relevant to corporate events, Lacy then took on a marketing and events internship for YouNow, a live streaming app and website. She helped the company prepare for VidCon, a large-scale video conference, and gained skills in social media marketing, developing marketing materials, conducting post-event analysis of tradeshows and tours, and handling relationships with VIPs and celebrities. And before the internship was over, she was all set for her next experience — the US Open.

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ABOVE: JORDAN LACEY as a JWU student.

The opportunity presented itself out of the blue to work as an ambassador for the United States Tennis Association at the US Open. I did not know a single thing about tennis … but it was such a great work experience, seeing how that whole operation works. It helped polish off my resume.

Out in the Work World
Getting close to graduation, Lacey heard about Marriott’s Voyage Management Development Program from Kara LaBelle, a student career advisor at JWU, who spoke about it during one of Lacey’s classes. “I learned about the benefits of Marriott, how they really respect Johnson & Wales alumni, and how they respect experience.”

When Lacey applied for the program, LaBelle helped her prep for the interview process. “She’s awesome,” said Lacey. “She helped me get everything together and speak about all of my experiences, from marketing to event production to the US Open.”

Lacey was offered three different positions for the Voyage program and chose the event planning one at the New York Marriott Marquis. After finishing the program, Marriott offered Lacey a full-time event manager position at the New York Marriott Downtown. More than a year later, she accepted a position as event manager back at the Marriott Marquis. “I just learned so much at the Marriott,” said Lacey.

While working for Marriott, Lacey studied for and earned her Certified Meeting Planner (CMP) designation, which she says “really helped me get to the next step.” She also became involved with the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) and Meeting Planners International (MPI).

It was through MPI that Lacey was approached for her current role with JPMorgan Chase as part of the corporate and investment bank event marketing team. Lacey says she’ll be working on “rolling out programs for credit cards and internal credit … working on trade shows, gala dinners, VIP and client events … it’s a lot of detail-oriented [work], a lot of following up, a lot of thinking outside the box.”

“Everyone in the Sports, Entertainment, Event — Management department was so helpful to me because I put myself out there.”

Supportive JWU Faculty
One of Lacey’s traits that helped her get from one experience to another is her ability to network. And she thanks JWU for that. “That’s something that Johnson & Wales taught me ... no one’s going to do it for you. You can apply for a job, but it’s so hard to get your name to the top of that pile. But knowing someone who knows you and knows your work ethic helps tremendously.”

Lacey acknowledges JWU faculty for their advice and guidance. When asked if she thought of any of her faculty as mentors, she replied, “Oh my gosh, all of them,” and gave some examples:

Associate Professor David Morris for giving students “that first push” to go out and get experience, work on the weekends, get out of your comfort zone.

Associate Professor Lee Esckilsen for “convincing me to look into IAEE [International Association of Exhibitions and Events] — I actually ended up winning a ‘women and events’ scholarship from them.”

Associate Professor Elizabeth Covino, who “was there every step of the way.”

Department Chair and Associate Professor Patrick Leary, Ed.D., who “helped me with my senior honors essay,” titled “Exploring the Glass Ceiling for Minorities in the Hospitality Industry.”

Lacey urges current and future students to take advantage of the opportunities available: “It’s what you make of it. You can go into the hospitality department and do the homework, turn it in, just go in and leave, or you can make a name for yourself. Are you staying after to talk to the professors, are you asking for resume help, are you asking career advice? Everyone in the [Sports, Entertainment, Event — Management] department was so helpful to me because I put myself out there.”

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