Stories of Excellence
|Everything that you would ever need from cradle to grave is here in Hastings.|
Mikki Shafer is one of many college students who graduated with a particular degree, but later on moved to another industry.
Originally from Tekamah, Shafer knew early on that her passion was in the hotel industry. To that end, she enrolled in the hotel, motel and restaurant management program at the Hastings Campus. During her studies, she got an internship at the Holiday Inn in Hastings where she began working at the front desk. From there, Shafer moved up to front desk supervisor, front desk manager and then over to the sales department where she eventually became the director of sales. With more than a decade of experience at the Holiday Inn, the next step would have been hotel manager; however, an uncertain forecast came about.
“Our Holiday Inn was changing owners and they were going to change it to the Quality Inn,” said Shafer. “It wouldn’t have been a bad thing for me to stay as the director of sales, but there was uncertainty.”
At the time, her three children were getting older, and working lots of nights and weekends in the hotel industry, combined with the uncertainty of the ownership change, caused her to look for another opportunity. Instead of going out and looking for another opportunity; she contacted a friend who had previously given her multiple opportunities.
“Tom Hastings, the president of the Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce had approached me asking if I would be interested in switching over to the chamber,” said Shafer. “I actually turned him down three times.”
In 2006, Shafer joined the chamber as the membership coordinator, a position she holds to this day. Some might say that making such a move would be a complete shift away from what her course of study was all about; however, Shafer points out that it was not a huge stretch.
“When I left the hotel, I was in sales and I was marketing the convention center and the hotel rooms to all of the local businesses here in Hastings,” said Shafer, who by that time had a lot of connections with the business community. “Those connections easily transferred over to the chamber. A lot of clients at the hotel were already chamber members and so it was very easy for me to go out and talk to new businesses about chamber membership.”
Even the concepts Shafer learned at CCC were transferable, particularly the customer service, event planning and business courses.
“It’s still a service industry,” said Shafer. “Instead of selling hotel rooms, I’m selling memberships and the services that we can provide for businesses. It’s still being with the customer and making the customer happy. I don’t want anyone to have a bad experience with the community, with an event that we host or anything along those lines.”
As change is always constant, Shafer is hoping for a change when Tom Hastings retires as chamber president in May 2018. She will apply to succeed him.
One thing that will not change is Shafer’s address. She loves the Hastings area and will remain there. In fact, she really thrives on helping young people realize that they have a lot of opportunities close to home and that they don’t have to leave town. Shafer believes that the Career Pathways program that CCC has at several area high schools is a big help.
“Everything that you would ever need from cradle to grave is here in Hastings,” she said.
CCC has been somewhat of a family affair for Shafer. She met her husband, Jason, when they were residents of Clay Hall at the Hastings Campus. Plus, her daughter, who is a senior at Sandy Creek High School, will attend CCC-Hastings and study dental hygiene. The couple also has two sons. One will soon graduate from University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the other is in the U.S. Army.