Kalen Isreal pursued a degree in hospitality management, coupled with extensive work experience and internships, to successfully launch her career in the hotel industry.
Kalen is the food and beverage administrative assistant at the EDITION hotel in West Hollywood. She graduated from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona with a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management. Throughout her time at Cal Poly, Kalen worked in the food and beverage industry as a restaurant host, server, and front desk night auditor.
Simultaneously, Kalen interned as an events coordinator with Step Up, a leading mentorship organization for teen girls. Offering programs both virtually and in various markets, Step Up supports the next generation of leaders to become confident, college-bound, and career-focused.
After she graduated, Kalen received an offer to join the food and beverage team at the West Hollywood EDITION, a luxury boutique hotel brand. In addition, Kalen is the founder of Mother’s Desk, a lifestyle brand that provides clarity and organization to the working wife and mother.
As part of a new series of interviews sharing the accomplishments of Step Up alumni, Kalen Isreal shares her inspiration, her motivation, and the best career advice she’s received.
What inspired you to pursue your current career path?
My career path was inspired by years of working in customer service, marketing and events with various companies including Step Up, Dermalogica, Victoria’s Secret, Hilton, and Marriott.
During my summers as a high school student I started interning in sales and marketing at Dermalogica. I enjoyed assisting with brand photo shoots, local salon tours and reassembling window designs for the company’s partner locations.
While in college I worked at multiple retailers alongside my part time internship with Step Up. It was through my experience at Step Up and the connections I made at their various events, where I realized I desired more than becoming a retail store manager. So, I pursued an education at Cal Poly Pomona studying Hospitality Management, where I advanced my knowledge to the broad world of hospitality and strengthened my skills in cooking, leadership, sales, and marketing.
I also worked in several roles within the industry as a server, restaurant host, front desk agent to front office supervisor, and currently the food and beverage administrative assistant at The West Hollywood Edition.
With the widespread opportunities in the hospitality industry I chose hotel management for the ability to teach the next generation of hoteliers and to passionately serve guests unique and sophisticated experiences they’ll always treasure.
Can you tell us more about your internships at Step Up?
I’ve worked as an events coordinator intern at Step Up during the spring terms while in college. I am an alum of the organization so having the opportunity to give back, while working in my field, was a bonus.
The purpose of my internship was mainly to assist with the preparation for Step Up’s annual Los Angeles event, the Inspiration Awards. I’ve occasionally been asked to speak onstage at the awards about my experience as a teen and interning alum, and I’ve also worked backstage with the girls and staff. In addition, I assisted with college and career connections events for teens, salon events for Step Up members, Power Breakfast speaker events, and other social gatherings.
These events bring to life the mission of Step Up. They allow teen girls to see the support they truly have. They allow professional women to experience and contribute to changing a young girl’s life. This is the rewarding and philanthropic work I aspire to achieve in the hospitality industry.
What has been your biggest professional achievement so far?
My greatest professional achievement has been working at The West Hollywood Edition, the newest lifestyle luxury hotel brand created by Ian Schrager through partnership with Marriott.
The Edition brand currently consists of 10 hotels worldwide including London, Miami Beach, New York, Abu Dhabi and even more to come. Each hotel has their own unique interior style and the most creative culinary experiences, filled with like-minded passionate employees and vibrant guests. The West Hollywood Edition is not just another building or another job, it’s a way of life for those who desire to serve and be served.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
In my spare time I enjoy walking along beaches and piers while dining locally. I also enjoy going on trips that involve horseback riding, zip lining, waterfall rappelling, jet skiing, and anything of extreme adventure. Most of my time is also spent with my 2-year old son. Whether it’s outside at the beach, the park or at a children’s play museum, I witness his imagination soaring.
What or who inspires, or motivates, you to be your best?
My greatest sources of inspiration draw from my faith and my family. I come from a large Southern family of ministers, entrepreneurs, and community leaders, all of whom have held me accountable to a standard of excellence. Whether that’s completing my degree, taking risks on business endeavors, to raising a black boy in America. Having faith has ensured my peace, my success, my strength in the midst of hardship. Having faith over my fears has solidified my future.
What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?
Some of the best career advice I’ve ever received has been to stay focused, obtain accountability and be aggressive. We always wonder if what we are doing is worth something. It’s important to remain focused and silence the noise around us. Accountability has taught me to be responsible and humble, and to turn my mistakes into opportunities for growth.
What are some of your future career goals?
One of my future career goals includes becoming a sales and event management leader at a luxury hotel. Events are an opportunity to showcase the hard work of companies and individuals. It is my desire to serve, love, and bring to life the vision of a client’s brand.
My other career goal is to continue building my personal business brand entitled Mother’s Desk. Mother’s Desk is a lifestyle brand that promotes confidence through positive customized stationery pieces including journals, planners, affirmation engraved pencils and subscription boxes.
My dream is to expand the Mother’s Desk line of stationery pieces to be on the shelves of major retailers like Target or Office Depot. I am also passionate about expanding services geared towards community development and a scholarship fund for inner city youth.
What do you love the most about your career path?
What I love most about my career path is that I own this journey. I had a very unconventional college experience. It didn’t take me 4 years to obtain my bachelor’s, but 8 years. I did not take advantage of opportunities to study abroad in my twenties, instead I worked full time to support myself through college.
This does not mean I will not have the moment to see the Eiffel Tower or walk along the sandy beaches in Santorini, Greece or secure a warehouse for my business. There’s no timeline to my success, but it will most certainly happen. I learn from my mistakes and celebrate every small victory.