For Kendra Maclure, her life-changing moment was the launch of a successful career found by interning behind the scenes at the San Diego Convention Center with the Events Services Department and the Convention Services Department.
While working towards her degree at San Diego State University, she interned at the San Diego Convention Center in 2016-2017. "My Internship was incredibly valuable to my career path," she said. "Not only did I learn from my teams during the internship, but I fostered industry relationships that turned into life-long mentors."
After graduating with a degree in hospitality and tourism management with emphasis on meeting and events, Kendra was hired as a Conference Coordinator/Assistant Manager of Special Events and Entertainment at the Gaylord Marriott in Washington DC. There, she gained experience with general service contracts and working with various labor unions. She brought valuable experience from her time interning with the San Diego Convention Center, especially her first-hand understanding of how space and scheduling challenges affect event logistics planning and implementation.
Today, she's the meeting/programs coordinator for The Optical Society (OSA). OSA's largest event is the Optical Fiber Communications Conference and Exhibition (OFC). This is the largest global conference and exhibition for optical communications and networking professionals, with nearly 15,400 attendees from around the world.
"Kendra has been an absolute star since she has started working at OSA," said Jessica Pagonis, Senior Meeting Manager for OSA. "Coming to OSA from working on the supplier side has proven to be very successful for her. She can tie in her experience and get a complete understanding of how everything is connected and dependent on each other in the meetings and events industry. Not many people have that advantage. I’m very much looking forward to seeing her continue on her career path and 'crushing it' along the way."
This year, OFC took place in San Diego and Kendra returned to the Convention Center - this time, as a client. Her previous intern experience gave her a unique perspective because she had seen so many events creatively use the Convention Center to its potential.
Our Senior Events Manager Tim Pontrelli, one of Kendra's mentors that she had as an intern, worked with her when she was in town working on the conference. "Our team shared some 'learned lessons' of event management," he recalls. "Now as a client here for the OFC conference, I was able to see she had learned a lot since leaving us and had taken some of the knowledge from here with her on her new career path. It was great to see that she was on the right path and will be another successful events person in the industry! It is not very often you get the chance to teach an intern and then see them later in the same industry and same building as a successful event professional."
When asked if she had any advice for other students interested in the industry, "It's helped me to view everything at work as a learning experience," she said. "And, it is important to get out of your comfort zone."