University of South Florida

Muma College of Business

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Amber Baylis

Student Spotlight: Juggling a full-time job with college, Amber Baylis uses classroom lessons in real time

ST. PETERSBURG – USF Senior Amber Baylis is a semester away from earning a bachelor’s degree in global business with a concentration in management and a minor in marketing. But when classes are done for the day, Baylis isn’t. She heads to her other full-time gig — working as a food and beverage manager at the Don Cesar.

The overlap between her academic and professional life has been symbiotic.

Amber Baylis

Amber Baylis 

“My degree program complements my professional life,” said Baylis. “I learn about organizational skills, conflict management, finance allocation and bring them to my job where I handle payroll, tip tracking, and manage guest satisfaction in a hotel restaurant.”

Baylis grew up in Sarasota, Florida. As the daughter of two restaurant owners, she was raised in the food and beverage industry and always knew that was the field she would grow into professionally. 

After high school, Baylis attended Florida International University in Miami. Soon after starting her college career, she realized FIU’s large university setting wasn’t right for her. 

Still in her freshman year, Baylis sought a smaller community environment and transferred to the University of South Florida’s St. Petersburg campus to study at the Muma College of Business. 

To her, the St. Petersburg campus had a vibrant community, great people, and an even greater downtown full of her favorite places all within walking distance of the campus. 

“I wanted a better relationship with my professors,” said Baylis. “At the Kate Tiedemann School of Business and Finance, I felt more connected to the school. I had a better opportunity to ask questions and learn and feel more like a part of the campus, rather than a number on campus.” 

Baylis loved passing friends in the hallway and forming relationships with campus faculty and staff.

“I was able to connect with my professors a lot easier,” said Baylis. “I could go up to them after class with questions and have valuable discussions and they would remember my name.”

After finding comfort in her school, Baylis was determined to grow professionally and learn how to achieve the career she’s long sought after.

Baylis originally thought her collegiate path into food and beverage operations started with a degree in entrepreneurship. However, her plans changed when she began networking on campus.

Baylis made friends and connections by joining student clubs and organizations including the Investment Club, the National Society of Leadership and Success, and Delta Sigma Pi.

Through Delta Sigma Pi, Baylis met a lot of other business students who connected her to all the opportunities the college offered.

Amber Baylis

Baylis speaking at a Delta Sigma PI meeting, May 2024

Following her brother’s advice, Baylis changed her major to global business so she could get a concentration in management and minor in marketing.

Prior to attending USF, Baylis never held a leadership position. Through working in student organizations, she built her confidence and improved her networking skills while expanding her knowledge and experience.

In July 2023, she stepped out of her comfort zone and got a job working as a barista at the Don Cesar Hotel on St. Pete Beach in Uncle Andy’s Market. 

She has since been promoted twice, working her way up first to supervisor, and most recently to manager.

Today, Baylis is the food and beverage manager at the Don Cesar Hotel, managing the coffee shop, market, and in-room dining for the hotel. She is in charge of going above and beyond for VIPs and helping management with upper-level initiatives.

Though she works full time, Baylis’s job keeps her laser-focused in school. 

Baylis manages her time by working weekends, holidays, and weekday mornings; leaving her afternoons and nights to focus on school during the week and always staying a week ahead in her studies.

“Managing school and a full-time job is a challenge,” said Baylis. “But it’s one that helps me learn my material a lot better.”

Baylis is satisfied by the continuous overlap of what she is learning in class and what she is applying in her professional role. She likes that she can exercise her studies in real-world situations. 

Baylis is set to graduate in December 2024. She plans to continue working in hospitality management and wants travel to different resorts across the world as a food and beverage director, using her skills in other parts of the world.

“My favorite things in life are food, beverage, and travel,” said Baylis. “Working in the food and beverage area of hospitality was a no-brainer for me.”

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