Annie TranMarch 9, 2021
Annie Tran was born and raised in Hanoi – the capital of Vietnam – in a not-so-typical Asian family (mom never cooks and dad doesn’t watch soccer). After growing up, 19-year-old Annie packed 2 huge suitcases, left the house and flew half of the Earth to the United States for college. After graduation, she spent 2 years in New York City exploring rooftop bars, old factories, random warehouses, historic castles, science museums, and many other places. 2017 marked another milestone in her journey. Annie moved back to Vietnam, chose the furthest island and continued her Event Planning career in the hospitality industry. Since then, she’s enjoyed the year-round sunshine, the white sand, the turquoise water, and the ocean breeze of Phu Quoc Island.
What year did you graduate and what was your concentration?
I graduated in 2016 with concentration in Public Communication.
What extra-/co-curricular activities did you do?
I think I did quite a lot since freshmen year because back then, I have no ideas which career path I should take so I gave everything a try. I joined International Club where I was in charge of the International Dinner and International Idol contest. I wsa also a member of the Vietnamese Student Association where we brought a food and entertainment fiesta all about Vietnam culture.
I also bonded with “native speakers” as well. I used to work for KTRM as promotion staff, then the Career Center as Public Relations staff during my freshmen and sophomore year. I joined Student Activities Board and worked for Center for Student Involvement as part of the innovation team my junior and senior year. My involvement with those groups is where I gained my experience and passion for event planning, which I have been doing since graduation.
Did you go to grad school? If so, where? Was it immediately after you left Truman or did you wait? Why?
I didn’t go to grad school. I did applied and got accepted to New York University for MS in Hospitality Industry Studies, but I decided to move back home to Vietnam in 2017 because I realized there are many great opportunities awaiting for me here.
What was your first job after graduation?
My first job after graduation is Wedding Executive for wedding planning boutique José Rolón Events. I did an unpaid internship there the summer after my junior year, then I came back for a paid internship the last semester of my senior year. Thanks to COMM internship courses, I was being able to work and earn credits at the same time. I highly recommend this plan to all students. Finally, after graduation, they took me on full time. I spent almost 2 years in the Big Apple to explore rooftop bars, old factories, random warehouses, historic castles, science museums, and so many others, thanks to events, mostly weddings. You would be amazed by the definition of event venues in New York.
At the same time I worked at José Rolón Events, I also worked at Ivie Joy Floral Arts and Events as Client Service Manager. It is pretty crazy to have two full time jobs; during peak season, I worked 7 days a week. But it has been the best time of my life! One day I was at The Plaza hotel doing floral decoration for the TONY Award After Party, the next day I was on the rooftop of Rockefeller Center running a 3-day birthday party for a billionaire. I had met so many legendary people at wedding and events.
What work do you do/What are you doing now?
In 2017 I moved back to Vietnam, chose the furthest island from home and have continued my journey in the hospitality industry ever since. I’ve enjoyed the year-round sunshine, the white sand, the turquoise water, and the ocean breeze of Phu Quoc Island every single day.
I started as Assistant Event Manager at JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay, then I moved to become the Event Manager at InterContinental Phu Quoc Long Beach Resort. Recently, I graduated from IHG RISE program – a program from our cooperation that supports and motivates female leaders to “rise” and become General Manager in the near future. I’ve decided to explore more options in the hospitality industry, so my General Manager promoted me to become Quality Continuous Improvement Manager. I have been rebranding our Spa, redesigning a mini supermarket for our staff, executing employee satisfaction survey, and I am sure there are so many other projects for me to experience for my future career path.
How has your Liberal Arts/COMM education helped you?
Well-rounded education and critical thinking skills. It is hard to explain, but since I was exposed to many perspectives and ideas while studying, it actually shaped the way I think. For example, in Communication Law, we dissected a lot of copyright cases in the American legal system. When I moved back to Vietnam, I learned that my country doesn’t have strict enforcement of copyright laws; however, since I understood why America has those laws, I just naturally respect them. I always cite every source used and credit everyone that is involved with the project. It has become my work ethic and professionalism.
Which class did you dislike at the time you took it, but now you’re grateful you took it?
Public Speaking (please don’t laugh). It wasn’t because of the material or the professor that I disliked the course. I was not a big fan of it because I had to stand in front of so many people and give speeches. I’ve since realized how important it is to present yourself and your ideas to your clients, your boss, your line staff, etc. In service industries, good public speaking skills set you apart from others. It is the difference between an international brand and a local brand.
What was your greatest accomplishment at Truman?
Physically: Creative Campaign Award 2014 and Detours Magazine Summer Photo Contest 2017 (Fourth Place).
Mentally: I found my passion in event planning and gained experience on campus that assisted me to land my dream job(s) after graduation.
Why is Truman a good place for a student to study?
I really enjoyed the small classes that allow you to have close relationships with other students as well as all the support from your professors. Also, there are so many opportunities on campus. From organizations to volunteer opportunities and actual jobs, that you can gain experience in many different ways. That doesn’t happen everywhere.
Lastly, the one thing I love about Truman is that I got to know so many classmates, especially in COMM majors. It felt like we grew up together! We took classes together, joined same organizations, participated in the same activities, and worked on the same projects for 4 years. We always supported each other when in need.
What would you say a COMM student should absolutely do while at Truman?
Every student should try to work for all of the student media platforms (newspaper, radio, TV, and online). I would also suggest taking courses or getting a minor in Visual Communication or Marketing since it will be helpful for you in the future. For international students, definitely should take the “reduce accent” course, as well as join Communication Disorder program on accent reduction, because it really did work. It will 100% boost your confidence in your English.
What advice would you give someone who wants to go into the same line of work as you?
Dream big. Also, get an internship – that’s for sure. I never thought I would have ended up in New York City and working so many amazing weddings and events. There are so many small boutiques in New York City that are doing incredible projects and willing to give you a chance through an internship. I was so lucky that I started with a small company first, because now, working for a huge one, I think I would be overwhelmed as a fresh college graduate.
What do you miss most about campus/Kirksville?
Kirksville: I missed the 10-passanger-including-pilot Cape Air plane (ha ha). Definitely a once in a lifetime experience. I also love Kirskville in autumn, where my friends and I normally wandered around town to visit local shops and farmer markets.
Campus: I would say the people. I missed our former president T-pain (Troy Paino) and his tricycle videos. I missed my old sweet SAB advisor Winston Vanderhoof, my boss at CSI Kayla Loper, and my COMM professors, including Dr. Self. Thank you all so much for being a part of my amazing college journey. Thanks to you all that I am able to do what I am doing right now. I hope you all can be proud of me as well as my classmates. (Editor’s note: We are) I wish I were still in the US so that I could visit all of you. I am planning a homecoming trip from Vietnam, and really hope that it can happen soon.
What tag line would you create for the COMM department at Truman?
“Shape the way you communicate. Prepare the way you succeed.”
If you could come back to Truman and teach a class for a semester, what would be its title and what would it be about?
Resumés, Cover letters, and Job Interviews – The class would assist students in landing their dream jobs.
If you would like to learn more of Anie’s story, you can follow her on Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn.