Andrew Creech graduated with a degree in Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management in 2019, and is now putting his skills to work for one of the largest hotels on the East Coast. He is the Entertainment Coordinator for Gaylord National Resort, just outside of Washington, D.C. We sat down to talk with him about his experience as an alumnus.
What is a typical day in your job like?
I work with a team of four people here in our Special Events and Entertainment Department on the creative development and execution of our resort’s recreation, entertainment and seasonal offerings.
In my role, I serve as the lead for creative development of various stage shows here, for which I am required to submit briefs to our brand leadership for approval. In addition, I act as the talent buyer for our property, providing musicians, DJs, or specialty acts for special events, food and beverage outlets, and our rooftop nightclub. I was able to utilize my background in music, having studied the Vocal Music Performance minor at NC State, as I wrote our “Christmas Miracles” tree lighting show which, in a first for Gaylord Hotels, introduced a live singer.
On any given day I am tasked with preparing creative briefs, detailing seasonal budgets, analyzing market data to ensure success of our events, networking with other area industry professionals and listening to an array of artists to potentially hire to perform here at the resort.
What impact are you making on your community through your work in this position?
I have had the opportunity to support the performing arts through the production of our “Sounds of the Season Concert Series” by hiring local groups to perform on our Atrium Main Stage. Through this concert series, we were able to introduce our audiences to local groups like the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, D.C., the Foundation for the Advancement of Music and Education (FAME) Jazz Ensemble, students from George Washington University, and even the State Chorale from NC State.
In addition, through our programming, we are able to partner with organizations like the National Children’s Hospital, the National Cherry Blossom Festival, and the Marriott Foundation for People with Disabilities. I am ecstatic that I have been given the opportunity to provide support for youth with disabilities, the LGBTQ+ community, service members and veterans, and so many more through my work here at Gaylord National.
How did the College of Natural Resources prepare you for the job you have now?
[The] College of Natural Resources was able to provide the hands-on learning that is necessary for success in any field, but especially in hospitality. I am thankful that we were given the opportunity to take courses which focused on event management, hotels and lodging, and tourism. The focus on sustainability was also a key part of my College of Natural Resources experience.
The Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management program also strategically incorporates the internship course where I was able to gain experience in the field as I spent the summer working for the Entertainment Department at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. This internship course allowed me to gain an in-depth understanding of special events production, and the operation of daily entertainment offerings.
During my time in the College of Natural Resources, I was able to meet and interview industry professionals such as Richard Marriott, Debbie Marriott Harrison, and Linda Bender of Marriott International and even visit corporate headquarters through volunteer work with the Tourism Management Association and the Marriott Foundation for People with Disabilities. It was through these interviews that I knew I wanted to eventually work for Marriott International, and I am so thankful that is where I am now.
What inspired you to study Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management and what do you like most about the field?
I am thankful that I was able to explore many majors through my first year in the Exploratory Studies program at NC State. During a panel of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management alumni, I was able to hear the story of an industry manager, and from that, I knew that was the field for me.
As I progressed in my study of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management, I was thankful to have mentors such as Dr. Whitney Knollenberg who inspired me to see all facets of tourism and hospitality so I knew exactly what I wanted to do in the field. My favorite part of working in the hospitality and entertainment industry is that I am given the ability to be creative every day, and craft events that will create memories for our guests. The best feeling is to see a guest with a smile on their face from enjoyment and knowing that I had a hand in creating that experience.
What’s the best piece of advice you could give to a current College of Natural Resources student?
To any current College of Natural Resources student, I would say to get out there and get involved. Networking is a great way to get involved in the industry and allows for a deeper understanding of any field, and professionals are always willing to give advice, mentor or simply have a conversation with students. This is not reserved only for professionals, as I advise to network with fellow students and professors too. Don’t be afraid to join a new club or Greek life, try a new sport, volunteer, or even be an ambassador. The people you meet while at NC State are what make the college experience so incredible and lasting connections can always benefit you in the professional world.