You’re graduating in a few months. You will be finally completing your bachelor’s degree in hotel administration from Cornell University, one of the top schools in the world for the hospitality business. It has taken you two years longer than usual, as you had to support yourself waiting tables and working the centrifugal juicer at a small sandwich bar near the university. The hard work has finally paid off and with it a sub-title that says, “magna cum laude.” Following your internship, offers are now on the table from various hotels and restaurants.
Maybe you’ll join St. Regis or the Four Seasons. Top luxury restaurants like Daniel, Le Bernardin, and Marea are also possibilities. These establishments have already expressed interest in taking you in.
You’re still overwhelmed by the fact that you will be graduating after two extra-long years. But you know you need to start thinking about your options. Will the hotel environment be for you? Or would you rather work in a restaurant environment?
The hotel and motel industry in America recorded total revenue of $206 billion as of April 2019. The industry employs more than 1.73 million people. Some suggest that, globally, one in every 11 jobs falls under the hospitality business.
The restaurant industry, on the other hand, employs nearly 3.1 million people.
Beyond Hotels and Restaurants
You also need to know that a degree in hospitality offers wider possibilities than just working in a hotel or restaurant setting. Here are your other options:
- Cruise ship
- Hospital catering
- Hotel & Tourism associations
- Airline catering and cabin services
- Club management
- Inns and Bed & Breakfast
Other related areas also include travel and advisory services, spa, events, and food & beverage. You need to also find out about the trends and opportunities in these areas. Determine which environment you think would be the best fit for you in terms of your skills and your personality. Try to envision where you would want to be, five or six years down the road.
From Bottom to Top
You’re done with college, but you’re not yet done matriculating! You won’t be effective at the top, if you don’t know firsthand what the experiences and the realities are like, working the frontlines. Work the hotel front desk or bartend to earn your spurs. These experiences will help shape your character and teach you how to become a good manager and an excellent executive.
A Premium on Soft Skills
You can throw out the window your degree, and with it your magna cum laude status, and likely your career, if you do not possess excellent communication skills. Communication, problem-solving and social skills are critical components in becoming highly successful in the hospitality industry. These skills are basic when you are required to adapt to various situations. You must be equally good working for both the housekeeping department and the front desk operation.
Whether it’s in the kitchen at full service on a packed night, or on the deck of a luxury cruise ship, it’s going to be a high-pressure situation. Keeping your calm and composure are essential qualities to have.
Your learning doesn’t stop with you finishing your degree. Value relationships as you navigate your way in the industry. Look for a mentor who can show you the ways of the business.
There’s plenty more that you will deal with as you build your career in the hospitality industry. But these key areas should help you at the start of your career.