Shadow Program Harnesses the Power of the JWU Alumni Network

This post was written by Melanie Rainone, a student career advisor for JWU Providence’s Experiential Education & Career Services (EE&CS).


The JWU alumni network can do a lot of things for students. For Abby Fritz, it shaped the trajectory of her career journey.

When Fritz, a junior Sports, Entertainment, Event Management (SEEM) major — with a concentration in Event Management — expressed to her advisor in Experiential Education & Career Services (EE&CS) that she wanted to shadow an alum in her field, Alumni Relations was able to pair her up with an alumna eager to share her professional expertise with a current JWU student.

Fritz got a job shadowing JWU alumna Tarah Warner, president and CEO of TMW Productions, an event management and business continuity company. Warner graduated from JWU with her associate degree in 2008 (Restaurant Management), a bachelor’s degree in Food Service Management in 2009, and with her MBA in Accounting in 2016. She started TMW roughly 4 years ago.

“Knowing that you are working with a JWU alum is a comfort. You feel more comfortable asking questions about what they did to succeed.”

For Warner, having Fritz shadow her was about giving back to her community. “I wanted to be part of the JWU alumni job shadow program because I am an alumna of JWU and had done something similar when I was in my undergraduate program at the university. I had a great experience and wanted to ensure that I could give that same wonderful experience to a current student.”

During her shadowing stint, Fritz helped work on the Coventry High School Alumni Association’s All-Year Class Reunion, which celebrated the school’s 85th anniversary and the Alumni Association’s 10th anniversary. The event took place at Rhodes on the Pawtuxet Ballroom in Cranston, RI.

On the day of the event, Fritz was able to get an inside look at the inner workings of an event of this kind. The day was kicked off with a team meeting where the TMW team members went over the itinerary and the details of the events.

From there, Fritz was able to help the event go smoothly and learn more about the operations of an event of this scale. “The biggest thing I learned was how to get 190 people into an event in a short period of time, checking them in, getting them a name badge, and getting them to cocktail hour,” she noted. She also got to experience raffles and door prizes, something that was totally new to her.

Warner thought it was important for Fritz to get an idea of how the whole event functioned — not just serve as an extra set of hands to help the event go smoothly. “She was able to assist with the event overall,” Tarah said. “Instead of ‘working in the trenches,’ she was able to gain a ‘bird’s eye view.’ Abby had worked many weddings in the past, and this was also an opportunity to work and experience a different segment of the event industry.”

The JWU connection between the two of them put Fritz immediately at ease, even though she was thrown right into the action. “Knowing that you are working with a JWU alum is a comfort. You feel more comfortable asking questions about what they did to succeed.”

“I carried that passion with me and knew that one day I would be working on the events side of the hospitality industry.”

As a JWU student, Warner was an active member of DECA, competed in business competitions each spring, and worked for Campus Dining — experiences that helped her develop skills she still uses in her professional life as an entrepreneur. She stressed that her own internship experience while she was a student not only furthered her career in events, but also helped her to experience her different interests in a real-life work situation and figure out what her professional niche would be.

Warner’s internship with Radisson Hotel Group “included both front of house and back of house job duties. After successfully completing the experience, I found that I enjoyed my time in the front of house working events. I carried that passion with me and knew that one day I would just be working on the events side of the hospitality industry.”

The shadow experience at the class reunion not only proved to Warner the value of having a JWU student assist her at an event, but also demonstrated the longterm impact Fritz’ presence could make on her team. “The experience with Abby was excellent. She was very well-prepared and asked a lot of great questions throughout the event. Through this experience, we both realized that Abby was a really good fit with the TMW team.”

Since then, Fritz completed a Marketing & Event internship with a focus on social media marketing and business events. As a result of her successfully completing the internship, Warner offered Fritz a part-time job in a marketing and events role.

When asked if she had any advice for other JWU students, Abby said, “Take any opportunity you get because you never know where that will lead you.”

July Update: Fritz has now accepted a full-time role with TMW after her planned graduation in May 2021.

Students: Interested in a JWU alumni shadow opportunity — or ready to plan your internship? Contact EE&CS at 401-598-1070 to get started.

Alumni: Are you interested in providing job shadowing or internships to JWU students? Get in touch!

CONTACT EE&CS

BELOW: JWU ALUM TARAH WARNER OF TMW PRODUCTIONS WITH JWU STUDENT ABBY FRITZ '21. BOTTOM: THE COVENTRY HIGH SCHOOL ALUMNI REUNION AT RHODES ON THE PAWTUXET BALLROOM.

Tarah Warner of TMW Productions with JWU student Abby Fritz '21Abby Hospitality Events Internship

Rhodes on the Pawtuxet Ballroom