Experienced Hospitality Industry Worker: Meet Catherine Viggato

Bringing work force knowledge to students


Posing for pictures and hanging out with Minnie Mouse Catherine Viggato recounts her time working at Epcot in the year 2006. “I really enjoyed the time I spent there because I got to know a lot of people from different parts of the country,” Viggato said. “It was the first time I was out on my own so it was good to get that experience.”

Carmen Ruiz, Staff Writer

As a CTE school, teachers are expected to have training and experience in the field of work that they are teaching. Hospitality teacher Catherine Viggato has been working in and experiencing the hospitality industry since she was a teenager and now strives to share knowledge with her students.

One of her first jobs in the industry was an internship for Disney in 2006 during her first semester of college.

I knocked on doors, I went to businesses, and I put a face to my name.

“That job was really about learning some finite details like time management, how to stand on your feet for hours on end, and learning how to do inventory properly,” Viggato said. “I was actually in charge of the money room where all the tills would come down. The tills would have to be counted out for the night or be set up in the morning with the proper amount of money. There was a lot involved in that job aspect alone, but it really got my feet wet. It made me understand the hospitality industry more as a whole and the demands that are put on your body for that kind of job.”

After graduating college, Viggato entered the workforce during the 2009 housing crisis. The hospitality industry was hit especially hard during this time because people were encouraged not to travel, and corporations were hiring fewer staff.

“It didn’t stop me though, even though the internet, email, all that stuff was around at that time,” Viggato said. “I still wanted to hit the pavement, as they say. I got out there with my resume, I knocked on doors, I went to businesses, and I put a face to my name. I actually put together a portfolio of all my past works that I’ve done, pictures and samples, so I can just kind of stand myself out from any other application that people were seeing. “

Viggato jumped through many hoops trying to secure a job, eventually finding that she had to get more creative in order to succeed.

“There was actually a bridal exposition in town, and I went to it, not as a prospective bride, but as someone who was trying to find a job in event management; I went around and I had my resume,” Viggato said. “I dressed up professionally, I introduced myself, and I think I took a lot of people off guard, but it really got my name out there. All I needed was one yes. It did give me an interview with a company who did management and specialized in wedding events. That’s how I got my foot in the door and I was very proud of how I received that job.”

Not only can students tell that Viggato has had outside experience working in the hospitality industry, but that she also brings that knowledge into the classroom as detailed by Coral Brayman, a senior in the hospitality program.

What really struck me about this particular person was that it was actually a priest who gave me a hard time.

“I believe her experiences in the field, just actually working out there with other people, have benefited me by giving firsthand insight into what things could be like; the certain things I could come across,” Brayman said. “It’s been very helpful to prepare me for a future career in the industry. I got hands-on learning about customer service, the right and wrong ways to talk to customers, how to serve them, how to work a register, and how to write a resume for a job interview.”

For example, Viggato detailed a common restaurant scenario of her toughest customer service experience as a manager: a country club she was working for ran out of a dish and failed to communicate this to her in time when a server offered the dish to a customer. She was then left to deal with the reaction of a high-class customer.

“It was the worst. I had to keep my composure even though it was getting to the point where it was getting very annoying. I tried to be very nice and polite about it all this time,” Viggato said. “Eventually, I think he did point to something else off the menu, but he was kind of arrogant about it. What really struck me about this particular person was that it was actually a priest who gave me a hard time. You would think they would be the most understanding kind of person, and he was quite the opposite.”

Despite the tough obstacles, Viggato wouldn’t change a thing and advises students looking into pursuing a career in the hospitality industry to stick with it.

“I just can’t wait to see where we take this department in the future, and to see what else is around the corner,” Viggato said. “That’s exactly what hospitality is like, just, what can happen next? What can we improve on? And I just can’t wait to see what that is.”