To pursue a long-term career in hospitality, determine what school to attend and on what segment of the industry to focus.
You just made the decision to pursue a long-term career in hospitality:Congratulations and welcome to the club!
Now what are you going to do?
Finding the best place to start is sometimes difficult and can present itself in different ways to each of us. Are you a student looking to find a great hospitality school? Are you a front-line associate who wants to take the next step into management? Possibly, you are a seasoned professional in another field wanting to break away from the normal 9 to 5 and try something that has always interested you. Whatever road you are on, there are plenty of options specific to you.
Where do I go to school?
Believe it or not, there is a right answer to this question. In fact, there are multiple right answers. If becoming the next great visionary within the culinary discipline is your passion, look at attending schools in the picturesque U.S. Northeast or the temperate wine country on the West Coast for some of the top food-and-beverage emersions. Don’t believe me? Take a moment to research some of the top chefs and you will find not only did they attend schools in Ithaca, New York; New York City; Pittsburgh; and Napa County, California. Part of the requirements to graduate at some of these schools is to spend time at satellite classrooms throughout the country to achieve the best experience possible. Not a bad gig if you ask me.
If the resort industry is where you see yourself, you can more than likely throw a dart at a map and find a region where a strong program is within a reasonable travel distance. Focus on tourist areas such as Florida, Las Vegas, Chicago, New York, Houston or Los Angeles where powerhouse programs not only provide a solid well-rounded degree but have established strong connections with local companies that will make it easier down the road for you to intern and secure a job after completion of your degree.
One of the greatest benefits in hospitality is the ability to move around the country and experience different brand cultures and regional experiences. If you prefer the sandy beaches and theme parks of Florida or the joy of all four seasons, there is no limit to find what fits best for you as a prospective student and for your future.
“Once you become a manager …”
This old adage has always ended with “ … you never go back.” This is true for most of us until a time in our lives where change becomes evitable. However, the basis of the statement is one that if pondered, should help provide direction to the many hospitality associates considering taking the next step as a supervisor or assistant manager.
These entry level management positions are a great way to either enter the workforce from college or move up the organizational chart for younger professionals in an hourly role. They provide hands-on experience as well as training and development for your future. At the same time, you are protected by your department head, who will help you navigate the managerial waters. The decisions you make would be 100% your own responsibility—both good and bad.
Every memorable experience started with a point of great decision—a decision on where to live and what to study, eventually leading you to an answer on what you want to do when you grow up. Embrace the challenges before you, take the time to learn every aspect of the job you want and become one of the next generation of leaders people will remember as the best they ever had.
Brandon M. Springer-McConnell – CHA, CFBE, CHT currently is the National Chairman-Elect for the American Hotel & Lodging Association Gateway. He also is an active member on numerous national level boards and committees tackling challenges in all areas of operations and learning development. He was also a Disney Trainer and has worked with multiple national companies in leadership roles.
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