Mackenzie Thompson Interview


MPINE: How did you get interested in the meeting and event industry?  What made you decide to attend Johnson & Wales?

MT: Throughout high school I was an avid concert goer. I loved the friendly, free spirited atmosphere that festivals provided and the exposure to different styles of music. I have some amazing memories, not only with some of my closest friends, but also with perfect strangers that made those times much more special. When exploring my options for college, I knew I had to take advantage of the opportunity to be able to study something that makes me excited to wake up and go to class in the morning. Originally accepted to Johnson and Wales for psychology, I knew I could not see myself in this major for the next 4+ years. When looking through their list of colleges, I found “Sports/Entertainment/Event Management,” under the college of Hospitality, and it immediately clicked that this is something I could excel in if I was given the chance. The entertainment side really pulled me in, I was interested to learn more about music and concerts.  While I was in the Event Management class, my professor had introduced us to MPI and explained all of the wonderful benefits, opportunities, and exposure it provides. Being an eager freshman, willing to get involved with anything that would help my career, I decided to join. After attending my first student chapter meeting, I found I had common interests with many of the club members. Since then I have attended 3 monthly meetings with our New England chapter, and I find everything my professor was telling me about this amazing association to be true.

MPINE: Can you tell us a little bit about your coursework and what areas of the industry you enjoy most?

MT: In my first year at school, I was able to explore all three sides of the major: The Business of Sports, Event Management and Entertainment Management.  I found myself really enjoying my event class where my peers and I created and planned an event of our own. I had played sports my whole life, so when I was able to take my sports class at the end of the year, I was introduced to a niche in the industry I had never explored, but in which I am now interested. Since then I have started working for the Johnson & Wales athletic department doing Game-Day Operations for all athletic events. I find myself really coming to love the operations side of events.

MPINE: What was it like to attend the MPI Fall Institute?  Can you share some stories of meeting other members?  What were some of your takeaways?

MT: After coming to the conclusion that I would be the only member of our student chapter to attend the conference in Newport, I knew I had to put my best foot forward as a representative of my University so I could communicate all the valuable information I gained back to my fellow club members. That being said, as I pulled up to the Viking Hotel on that brisk afternoon, I was slightly intimidated, but ready to go along with wherever the day took me. I became much more relaxed after showing up at the registration table, ready to work. I enjoyed meeting and talking to the professionals- they always make me feel welcome as a student. During the first session, Judi Holler presented on personal branding and how to find your competitive edge. To me this was the most influential session I attended. She reminded us that we need to take the shame out of shameless self-promotion, important information for a young professional! After getting on stage with Judi to participate in an improv activity, I was so inspired by the positive comments and feedback I received from the other participants.  This set the tone very high for me at the beginning of the first day, and I could not wait to see what else was in store over the next two days. After several positive affirmations from people, I connected with numerous event professionals. I was assured that I am on the right path and as I keep working hard I’ll find myself in the industry.   

MPINE: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?  What are some of your other hobbies and interests?

MT: During high school I was enrolled in photography classes throughout my 4 years. My father had been into photography as well, so it was nice that I could use this as another way to connect and share common interests. I began to explore different methods, from processing and developing my own photos in the dark room to digital photography as I learned more. Once I obtained a camera of my own, I was out shooting photos of friends, landscapes, and even trying out some self portrait photography.  This helped me look at different objects, scenes and people from a unique perspective and opened up my mind that the world was much bigger than I had ever imagined. It is essential to try and see things from different angles and take a different approach if one wants to be a successful photographer and event professional. I realized how much I love capturing beautiful moments and hope to continue to explore this art form as I advance through life.