During the summer months of her college career at Southern New Hampshire University, Kristen Franco found employment as a service person and waitress at nearby country clubs. One of those facilities was Stonebridge Country Club in Goffstown, N.H., where Franco was given the opportunity to assist in coordinating several weddings. It was that experience which helped her realize event planning is the job field for her. Franco exudes a determination to succeed and achieve the career goals she’s set for herself, and she’s currently on the right path to make her dreams a reality. After graduating in 2008 with a B.A. in hospitality management with a concentration in event planning, she moved to South Florida where she was offered a position at Bear Lakes Country Club in West Palm Beach.
Franco is part of Bear Lakes’ Manager in Training (MIT) program, which requires her to work as a waitress in the facility’s dining room while also learning other aspects of the club’s operations such as managing tournaments, wedding/event planning and catering.
“Serving in the dining room has been nothing short of a wonderful experience for me. I love our membership,” says the 24-year-old Franco, originally from Bedford, N.H. “The members have real connections and friendships with the staff, and even invite us to their homes for dinner sometimes as a way of saying thank you for taking care of them. At Bear Lakes we’re taught to go above and beyond for our members, and with a membership that’s so appreciative of their staff, it’s really easy to do that.”
One way in which Franco goes well above and beyond her job description is the tennis clinics and lessons she provides for the member’s children. She has done a few clinics in the past and looks forward to doing more this upcoming summer. Franco was a four-year member of the women’s tennis team at SNHU, where she led the team to the conference semifinals in her senior year. “Kristen is an awesome tennis player and awesome person,” says Greg Coache, the head women’s tennis coach at Southern New Hampshire. “She has a great personality and a smile that’s as big as her forehand. She was a ton of fun to have on the team and a very strong competitor.”
Now Franco brings her tennis knowledge and experience to Bear Lakes, where she’s been gung-ho about helping juniors. “It’s fun helping out these young kids just getting into the game (of tennis). I can remember when I was 10 and just starting out and how important it was for me to have someone around to help me learn more,” says Franco. “I can see potential in a lot of these kids, it’s gratifying to know that there’s an interest in tennis at the youth level.”
By her own admission, Franco is a much better tennis player than she is a golfer, but since arriving at Bear Lakes she has taken an interest in the game. Franco went on the course for the first time last summer and was able to pick up the game rather quickly thanks to the hand-eye coordination she developed playing tennis. “I really enjoy golf, and hopefully this summer, once our high season ends, I’ll be able to get out on the course a whole lot more,” she says. The time Franco spends waitressing at Bear Lakes varies depending on her other responsibilities at the club which include contacting clients for events or weddings, working alongside the director of catering and even assisting in tournament operations during the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament event hosted by Bear Lakes earlier this year. “Kristen is a hard-working employee with an incredible personality. She treats each member as a close friend or relative and is always looking for ways to improve the operation,” says David McClymont, the clubhouse manager at Bear Lakes. “She is always willing to take on new projects and maintains a very positive attitude throughout the process. Currently she is working in our MIT Program as an assistant to our director of catering. She has been extremely helpful in this capacity and even worked an entire two-week period by herself as the lead catering contact while the director was on vacation. We expect a very bright future for Kristen as a result of her great work ethic and dynamic personality.”
While she enjoys her waitressing duties and the camaraderie it builds between her and the membership, it’s still just one step on the road to achieving her ultimate goal. “Many of the servers at our club are content with their job and there’s nothing wrong with that,” says Franco. “But for me, I’m fresh out of college and just starting out on my career path. This is just one step in a long journey to getting where I want to be in life.”
—Tony L. Starks