If there’s one piece of advice Marco Briganti would give students who are considering the Ted Rogers School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Ryerson University, it’s to set a long-term goal and find the university program that will allow you to accomplish it. “If you want to build your own company, work your way backwards. Which school is going to let you do that? How will you get involved? Which industry do you want to be in? Make those things happen.” Marco is an award-winning first-year Hospitality and Tourism Management (HTM) student who has a vision for his future career and knows TRSM is the school to help him get there.

Here, Marco tells us about discovering Hospitality and Tourism Management, the many awards and scholarships he has received, and his career goals.

Photo of Marco Briganti

How did you choose Hospitality and Tourism Management at TRSM?

It’s a very interesting story. From grade 9 to grade 11, I thought I was going to get into science – marine biology, zoology – that was my go-to. Then when I was in grade 11 and taking specialized sciences, I realized I wasn’t as motivated as I thought I would be.

That spring, I took a family vacation to Cuba and I met a Canadian representative from a travel company. I asked him a bunch of questions and he was very open about his work. When I got home, I did a lot of research and realized I could turn the travel hobby that I love into a career. Which is phenomenal. I realized I had a lot of options. Another university offers a program in tourism management and food and beverage management. The difference is what courses I’m going to take. In HTM at TRSM you have specialized courses in your first year. Lodging Industry and Organization (HTL 101), where you learn about hotels, and other types of lodging. In Tourism Concepts (HTT 202), you learn about the tourism side of the industry. And Service and Professionalism (HTH 102), which teaches us the marketing side and service sector. Going into first year, I had a whole job plan related to tourism, but I didn’t really know completely what kinds of opportunities it could offer.

Can you tell us a bit about the awards and scholarships you’ve won?

All of the awards and scholarships were based on my grade 12 average and the applications consisted of an essay or reflection paper. Topics included “Why are you the perfect candidate for the award?” or “What do you plan on doing with the award?” and I had to include previous achievements, work/volunteer experiences, as well as future career goals. I came in this summer to hand in one application and while I was there, I was encouraged to apply for these other ones. So I went back home and did the other applications and handed them in but didn’t expect to get them. I won the Ted Rogers Entrance Award, which was for $10,000, and the Peter Fyvie Entrance Award [which is for $1,000].

I also received the Canadian Hospitality Foundation (CHF) Florence Montgomery Award. I found that one really intriguing because at first I wasn’t familiar with any external scholarships. Then I realized that industry professionals who are part of the CHF would be reading my application essay about my past achievements and future career goals. It amazed me to think that if I actually won an award, it would mean that my thoughts and future aspirations would be “accepted” within the industry. That one was for $3,500. I was on the bus during the summer, a couple of days before school, and I get an email from CHF saying that I had won and I couldn’t believe it. I was like, I’m on a bus right now – I don’t know whether to freak out or not.

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What’s it like to be part of the TRSM and Ryerson community?

The first time I realized I wanted to pursue hospitality and tourism, this was the first school that I researched. It’s been with me since the beginning. There were two open houses last year and I came to both of them. They were the same thing but I just wanted to come again. And then when I was downtown, I would come and visit the campus. I love it, it’s amazing.

I love the SLC (Student Learning Centre). If I want to study, I go to the 7th because it’s a quiet floor and I sit by myself and study and think. And if I want to meet up with some friends, I’ll go to the 6th floor: the Beach. Everyone goes to the SLC.

Are you involved in any extracurricular activities or student groups?

I’m involved in the curriculum council for HTM, contributing my opinion for the future of the program. TRSM is doing a big curriculum revision and my opinion as a student will help measure the success of where the future of the program is going. I get to think about where I see people coming into the industry in the future, and where I think they should be going.

How does university compare to high school in terms of workload?

I’m going through the experience of getting used to everything and trying different study techniques. In high school I had a calendar in my head and knew what I was doing every day even if it was two weeks down the road. But this year I have literally kept my agenda in my back pocket, writing everything down.

My first midterm was Economics and it was a little overwhelming, but it prepared me for what to expect on the next ones and I did really well.

What are your goals for the future?

The courses this year have shown me where I could go with this program.

So what I want to do is to open up my own hotel. I really want to finish school, get into management at a large hotel franchise, and then think about starting my own company. I really want that company to be based around environmental ethics. Keeping a green company, tied into sustainable tourism. I want it to be a green, sustainable building. I want everything to be environmentally beneficial. And with my guests and travelers, I want them to be offered more sustainable green tours and events. To give people experiences through the lens of environmentalism. I want people to come to Canada and experience what our values are.

What advice would you give future students who are considering TRSM?

Have a final plan in mind and then work your way there. So if you want to build your own company, work your way backwards. Which school is going to let you do that? Where are you going to study? How are you going to study? How will you get involved? Which industry do you want to be in? Make those things happen.

I would also recommend students apply for the many awards available if they have the opportunity. Only good things can come from these opportunities, so why not try? All it took was a couple days of my free time in the summer months to write up a couple papers about myself, one of the simplest topics, and I received all three awards I applied for!

Is Hospitality and Tourism Management the program that will help you achieve your career goals? Check out the HTM website to learn more.

Are you a current TRSM student or thinking of joining us in the future? Share your TRSM story with the hashtag #ThisIsTRSM.

Posted by Shane MacInnis

Shane MacInnis is TRSM's Writer/Content Specialist.

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