Sometimes, a chosen career path doesn’t work out the way you hope. The passion fades and rather than fulfilling you, it chafes – becoming a job rather than a career, something to endure on the way to a paycheck.
You have choices to make: to endure the slog, or to see it as an opportunity to retool, to expand your horizons and find where you really belong.
Jessica Nurczynski made that second choice. She first graduated from SUNY Broome in 2011 with a degree in Business Administration, going on to SUNY Oswego, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing with a minor in graphic design. The Owego native then found a job in her field as a proofreader – and found that she hated it, and didn’t want to spend her professional life behind a desk.
“I didn’t like what I was doing; it was a dead-end job with no potential for growth,” she said. “So I decided to go back to school.”
Hospitality has been a long-time interest of hers, and she had considered attending Broome-Tioga BOCES’ culinary program back in high school. She drew on this interest when she returned to SUNY Broome, earning an A.O.S. degree in Event Management in May 2018 and continuing to work toward an A.A.S. in Hotel and Restaurant Management.
“I love that the classes are small and you really get to know your professors well,” she said. She particularly appreciates Professor Maria Montemagno and instructor Christina Hasemann, pointing out: “They’re very knowledgeable. They love what they’re doing, and they set you up to succeed.”
She honed her classroom experience with internships at the Binghamton Club and, later, at Baked Euphoria, which confirmed her ultimate dream of running a café or bakery someday with her sister. Her short-term goals include working at an event center, possibly as a wedding planner or banquet manager, helping couples plan their ultimate celebration.
At SUNY Broome, she also found herself branching out in unexpected ways, becoming involved with campus life. She joined the Hospitality Club, participating in a wide range of events from campus soup sales to a New York City field trip. She served as vice president of Alpha Beta Gamma, the international business honor society, which also gave her the opportunity to attend a national conference.
Drawing on her marketing background, she also curated the Hospitality Programs’ Facebook and Instagram pages, eliciting interest in her division. She’s made friends, too; her programs are small enough where she knows everyone in her department, allowing her to forge connections that a larger university may lack.
“Coming back for the second time has been eye-opening,” she reflected. “My advice to students is this: Go join that club. Do extracurricular activities. Talk to people.”
And contrary to popular belief, students should know that there is plenty to do on campus – as well as in downtown Binghamton and throughout the area, from concerts and festivals to great food options. As a Hospitality Programs major, it’s something she has seen herself – and wish others realized, too.
After completing her Event Management degree this May, she is taking a bit of a break, academically speaking, before returning to class and finishing her Hotel and Restaurant Management degree. This summer, she landed an internship at Yellowstone National Park, which she discovered through the Applied Learning & Career Center’s Purple Briefcase program. She will be a resident coordinator – a resident assistant for volunteers who are spending the summer working at the park, she explained.
She is looking forward to her internship, as well as pursuing a career that fits her nature and interests. Hospitality careers can be tough, requiring long hours and a passion for meeting the customer’s needs, she acknowledges. Still, it brings greater rewards than any desk job could, at least for this future bakery owner and event planner.
“I like interacting with people. I need for something to change every day,” she explained. “I need some spice in life. That’s the great thing about the hospitality industry – it provides that.”