Do you have good communication skills, and like working with people? Can you work well under pressure? Do you like working with food, and are you creative? Then the hospitality and tourism industry needs you!
The hospitality industry is the largest employer in the world. Over 220 million people work in this sector, and by 2019 it is predicted that one in every 11 of us will do so. Tourism generates almost 10% of the world’s GDP.
But with so many different careers to choose from, which path is right for you? And what is to really like to work in this sector? Does the excitement of travel, meeting new people and making sure they have a great time make up for the long hours, fast pace, awkward shifts, and even the relatively low pay when you first start out?
We ask a few people who work in this industry what they think, and what their advice is to hospitality and tourism students like you.
How do I kick-start my hospitality career?
You could be the strategic mind behind the scenes of a hotel, travel agency or tour operator, or you might prefer to be face to face with customers every day. You may even be entrepreneurial enough to start you own restaurant, café, bar, hotel or tourism business. For all these careers, you need the right qualifications, whether it’s a catering diploma, a Bachelor of Hospitality Management, or an MBA specialising in tourism.
Combining training with experience
Leanne is a Lecturer in Tourism at Southern Cross University in Australia, where the three-year degree includes a five-month internship. She has worked in hotels, resorts and clubs, so she understands the importance of practical on-the-job training and industry experience.
“My most memorable overseas job was working for the Japan Travel Bureau in Japan,” she says. “Learning about how another country operates, using another language… plus it’s the friendships you make that are the most memorable.”
She says her students love their internships; “they often say it’s the best part of their degree, because it’s so hands-on and they really enjoy putting the things they’ve learnt into practice.” These days, most of the internships are paid at an entry-level wage, and many graduates go on to work with their internship employers.
Her students have worked in event management, sports administration, hotels, resorts, government bodies, marketing consultancies and the education sector. “We’ve pretty much got the industry covered!”
Leanne is honest about the drawbacks of a life in tourism. “There’s often a high turnover because of location… remoteness is a problem for some people, and the hours tourism demands… people don’t want to do shiftwork forever.” She notes that the biggest issue the industry faces is a skills shortage.
On the plus side, “dealing with people every day keeps things interesting, entertaining and very rewarding. Plus of course you get to travel!”
From scholarships to apprenticeships
Julieta works as the International Markets Co-ordinator for Tourism NT in Australia. Thanks to a U21Global scholarship, she is also doing an online Master’s in Tourism and Travel Management with the University of Nottingham in the UK – over 10,000 miles away. For her, it’s a fast-track into high-level management roles.
She enjoys the challenge of a virtual classroom. “Everyone in my assessment group is from a different continent! We’re all required to speak English. We chat to each other and post assignments through a forum.”
In her current role with Tourism NT, Juanita enjoys a lot of travel. “Last year I went to a remote cattle station in the Northern Territory. We were lucky to be flown in a helicopter around the half-million acre property!”
“There is no typical week because it always changes. I was just at a trade show in Perth. Next week I’ll be in another city. Time in the office is spent planning and working on projects.”
Apprenticeships are a key component of diploma and certificate level studies in catering. Kathleen was recently named Apprentice of the Year at Sydney Institute, and has now completed her Certificate III Retail Baking. She served two busy apprenticeships at two of Sydney’s leading restaurants, Rockpool and Bistro Moncur.
“Everything was crazy with my working hours and combining this with (study), but with the help of my teachers I could attend extra classes and accelerate my apprenticeship,” she says.
Samantha, from Hong Kong, was hooked on travel from a young age. She chose a hotel management degree in Australia, and has already completed two internships in Hong Kong. “I did my first internship at the Hong Kong Peninsula in food and beverage… and am on my second at the Island Shangri-La Hong Kong in sales and marketing.”
“It feels awesome to work hard for something I’ve always wanted and enjoy. From here, opportunities and possibilities seem endless.”
If you’re ready to get started on your brilliant career in hospitality, why not start your search on the Hotel, Food & Tourism Directory.
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