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Ole Miss Musings: Recent Ole Miss Grad Finding Her Way in the Private Sector

Ole Miss grad, Rivers Countiss, is now out in the “real world” attempting to make a difference. Having graduated with a degree in Hospitality Management, Rivers is presently working in Oxford with a promising future awaiting her. HottyToddy.com recently crossed paths with Rivers at the Chamber of Commerce’s annual Gala hosted at Castle Hill.
HottyToddy.com: Rivers, tell us a little about your hometown and what led you to Ole Miss.
Rivers Countiss: I am from Meridian, MS. Due to my dad being a huge fan of the Rebels, I’ve been coming to football and baseball games for as long as I can remember. Ole Miss has always been a huge part of my life, and I never had a desire to go anywhere else.
HottyToddy.com: Why did you select your major and how do you intend to use it looking forward?
Rivers Countiss: During my freshman year of college, I had no idea what I wanted to major in. It wasn’t until second semester, sophomore year, that I declared my major to Hospitality Management. I honestly decided it because I was still unsure of my future plans and I felt it would be the best match for me. I intend to apply what all I gained from this major under any job looking forward. I feel that this major has provided me the perfect platform upon applying for jobs and not just within the Hospitality Industry. 
HottyToddy.com: Tell us about what you are currently doing in Oxford.
Rivers Countiss: I’m currently training for a manager position at Zoe. 
HottyToddy.com: While you were pursuing your degree at Ole Miss, what were your expectations by majoring in Hospitality Management?
Rivers Countiss: Considering I was very unsure about what I wanted to major in, my expectations were not too high. I’ve always had the dream of owning my own business one day, so I was really hoping to gain management skills on what all it takes to be successful in doing so. 
HottyToddy.com: In your opinion, does Ole Miss provide the very best forum for Hospitality Management or could it be improved upon? 
Rivers Countiss: I do think that Ole Miss does provide the best forum for Hospitality Management. I feel that it has benefited me the best way possible for life after college.  
HottyToddy.com: Looking back on your curriculum and classroom challenges, how has this prepared you for a career in the private sector? 
Rivers Countiss: I feel that the classes are helpful, but what helped me the most in learning so much was the internship that is required. The 400-hour internship gives you an opportunity to get out in real life situations. It helped me a lot with customer service and working as a team. 
HottyToddy.com: Fast forward five years, what and where do you see yourself doing professionally at this juncture in your life?
Rivers Countiss: My passion is makeup, and my dream is to own my own makeup store. I can see myself in Nashville or Oxford. 
HottyToddy.com: Describe some of the possible opportunities awaiting Hospitality Management graduates once they enter the private sector following the classroom. 
Rivers Countiss: The good thing about this major is that it has a broad list of opportunities out there. You could go from being a manager at any business to being a travel agent or event planner, etc. I love how there are so many routes you can take having this degree. 
HottyToddy.com: While a student, you accepted an internship at Castle Hill. How did this experience strengthen your education in the classroom?
Rivers Countiss: It gave me a chance to apply what I learned from the classroom to real life situations. I think hands-on experience is the best way to learn. 
HottyToddy.com: What did you enjoy the most about your Ole Miss experience?
Rivers Countiss: There are so many things I could list, but probably my favorite part was the diversity. It was such an amazing experience to go to school only 3 hours away from home but meet people from all over. My freshman year I lived in Martin dorms, and I had a girl from Canada on my floor. It is just crazy to me how close I am to home, but how different of a world Ole Miss was to me. 
HottyToddy.com: If you could have changed anything about your Ole Miss experience, what would that have been?
Rivers Countiss: It took me a while to think of something and I can’t, I really do not regret a single thing I did. It was the best college experience I could have asked for!
HottyToddy.com: Returning to the internship, how do you apply what you learned at Castle Hill to your present position?
Rivers Countiss: Before my internship, I did not have much work experience. I definitely apply my customer service experience and working as a team to my current position. The internship prepared me for a real job, and I feel it was a great insight on what the “real world” was like. 
HottyToddy.com: Looking ahead to your future objectives, what would you like to accomplish most from your professional career?
Rivers Countiss: My biggest goal in life is to be the best I can be and be successful. No matter where life takes me, I always want to be successful in whatever I pursue!
Rivers Countiss has a tremendous future in front of her as the very personable young lady is surely primed for success in whatever arena she ultimately selects. She is definitely a credit to her university and her state. When graduates like Rivers enter the workforce, this is one of the best marketing messages for Ole Miss, directed at those students pondering where they should attend college, investing four or more years into their continuing education.

Steve VassalloSteve Vassallo is a HottyToddy.com contributor. Steve writes on Ole Miss athletics, Oxford business, politics and other subjects. He is an Ole Miss grad and former radio announcer for the basketball team. Currently, Steve is a highly successful leader in the real estate business who lives in Oxford with his wife Rosie. You can contact Steve at sovassallo@gmail.com or call him at 985-852-7745.
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