One of the challenges that hospitality students can face is finding work experience to put on their CV, while studying or after graduating.
Often employers look for candidates with strong work experience, not only that, but it's experience that leads to improved skills and increased employment opportunities, despite years of study.
Here are five ways to gain work experience in hospitality as a student.
1. Do volunteer work
Volunteering is a great way to lend your skills, try new things, and boost your resume! If there is an opportunity to volunteer as a server at a major dinner event near you, take it!
Maybe you have always wanted to see what it is like to work in the kitchen and there is a charity in town that cooks meals for the homeless, try it! If you have some solid photography skills, you could offer to take photos for someone’s event. The list goes on. Get your hands dirty and test your skills. See what you like and what you don’t.
2. Get a part time job
Volunteering will only take up as much time as you allow in your schedule. If you would prefer to save your time for making money, getting a part time job is the way go.
There are so many people from all disciplines who work in hospitality to help them pay for school. Finding a part time job will help you get the experience you need for the industry and degree. To get started, talk to your friends or your class mates, it's likely that they know someone who has a job opening.
3. Check out the career center
You might be wondering, how do I even find a job in town or look for volunteering opportunities? Take advantage of the school while you’re there. They want to help you in any way that they can.
The career center not only has flyers and online job boards for what is available to you, but they also have people who you can make in person appointments with (gasp). They can help you tailor your resume, they can give you tips on how to interview, and if you become friendly enough, they might even have connections to help you land a job faster.
4. Join groups
As an introvert, the thought of joining groups and being around people for long periods of time is exhausting. But, even for the introverts, this is something that will help you build up your confidence. There are so many types of people you will need to deal with in our industry, it is crucial to know how to interact with different types of people.
It is also a great way to make new friends and make new connections. You never know who might be able to help you down the road. Get involved in things that peak your interest. You aren’t committed to anything so just give it a try. Literally any group you join will in some way be something that you can tie into hospitality. Music, film, design, art, marketing, it all applies!
5. Attend networking events
This is probably the most important step of all. This industry literally thrives on relationships. If you have a place you really want to work because you love their values, design, or events, then you must network. This is especially important if you are looking for a placement.
There are thousands of applications that come in to the HR department and unfortunately it just isn’t very personable. Recruiters love to be at networking events because they want a more realistic sense of who you are and schools have tons of these events.
If your school has a hospitality society, get involved! If they host regular events, for networking purposes or not, attend! Grab a drink and don’t be afraid to introduce yourself. Be genuinely interested in them and their company and whatever conversation you have, see it as a chat rather than a formal interview.
So there you have it. There are five ways that will help you gain experience and contacts for the industry. Whether you are fresher or finishing your masters degree, these tips apply to everyone. So get out there and get involved because there are plenty of opportunities available!
|Andrea Aguilar earned her master’s degree in International Hospitality, Event, and Tourism Management from Oxford Brookes University. She has since left to start her own hospitality business called Preshift Hospitality that focuses on employee engagement in the hospitality industry.|
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