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How To Make A Career Plan That Works | Hospitality Industry for Students

 The only thing that is constant is change. - Heraclitus

Making a linear, unflexible career plan, in the hospitality industry, is the recipe for failure and disappointment. You should be making flexible career plans.

In this blog post, I will tell you how to make flexible career plans in the hospitality industry.

But first, let’s understand a few things about the hospitality industry, career, and plans in general.

Career planning in hospitality and tourism

Hospitality industry careers in the industry are not linear as doctors’ and lawyers’ career are.

Hospitality industry careers and jobs are always evolving alongside the industry and the changing demands of the people - that’s the thrill of this industry.

To plan or figure out your future career in the hospitality industry you need to first and foremost get comfortable with the hard fact of life: all things change and will change.

This makes it hard to plan, or does it?

Developing a flexible mindset

Change is hard, it’s scary and stressful. It often happens to us when we least expect it. When change is initiated by us, change is exciting and fun.

Would you rather feel stressed about change or be excited about new things?

I would rather be excited, so I choose to welcome change with excitement and curiosity of what’s next, even when it happens to me and is not initiated by me.

This is easy for me because that’s how I am wired, I am very adaptable to new circumstances. I know not everyone is like that and it is much harder for other people to deal with change.

What to do to easier deal with stress (in your career)

Make more plans.

Yes, it sounds crazy that a solution to the stress of your plans not going according to plan is more plans, but it is.

Imagine this, you had a plan you were going to run errands today and made a plan to do them in this order:

Go to the bank -> 
See a friend for coffee -> 
Buy your mum a gift at that shop she likes -> 
Pick up a parcel -> 
Buy some groceries -> 
Exercise at home

That’s a reasonable plan and I am sure you’ve done that before in a similar order.

But what happens if you are delayed getting into town and skip going to the bank because your friend is already there waiting for you? What happens when your coffee overruns because you are having so much fun? What if the post office is closed when you get there because you forgot they’re closed on Sundays?

You will probably feel stressed about not completing all tasks you set out yourself to do that day and you may feel unproductive. You had a plan, you’d think, and it was very straightforward, so why was it so hard to stick to it?

The straightforward and linear plans are hard to stick to because they do not account for things that are not included in the plan.

You cannot know that your commute will be delayed or that your friend will be early, and out of these two you can only really anticipate one (the damn commute ofc…).

It’s the same with your career plans, if you plan for your future to follow a linear and straightforward plan, you are going to run into the same issues. As you try to follow the plan, you will meet obstacles and wonder why they are there, you had a great plan after all.

If you spend a bit more time at the start making several plans, you will be able to pick the one that is closest to the reality and feel excited about the things that are coming your way.

This is why I think career plans should be flexible by default.

And why making more plans is the solution to not feeling anxious and stressed about plans not working out.

This is how you start making a flexible career plan (in the hospitality industry)

To make a career plan, a flexible career plan, you have to be prepared to spend some time on it because research is key here.

The more you learn about the people and jobs in the hospitality industry, the more information you will have to take advantage of when making your career decision.

Le’ts begin.

Identify if you are a type A or type B.

Type A: You know where you want to go in your hospitality career, i.e. you want to be in revenue management and become a director of a large property in X years.

Type B: You don’t really know where in hospitality you want to go, as you are interested in several things and still trying to find that goal to work towards.

Start your research.

Based on what type of person you are, A or B, here’s what you should do in your research:

Type A:

  1. Understand the requirements for the role you are striving for: research and study job descriptions for the role in different companies.

  2. Understand how different people achieved that point in their careers: research people that have that job, what was their career path like?

  3. Evaluate your skills and where you are in your career now. Make a list and find keywords from the research you did in steps 1 and 2.

  4. Identify what skills and professional experiences you need based on research in steps 1 and 2. Fill the gap between where you are and where you want to be.

Important for you to remember here that you don’t draw one linear straightforward “ideal” path to that job. You will use the research in step 2, finding people in that role and analysing how they got there, to create at least 3 different ways you could get there.

For those of you that don’t have that goal or job in mind, you’ve gotta do 5 other steps before getting started with the ones above, because you gotta do a bit of thinking first.

Here’s what you should do:

Type B:

  1. Make sure you do several different internships during your degree and gain a range of experiences to help you form a bigger picture of what you can do and what you like to do. Even if you bloody loved the front desk at your first internship, go explore the tourism office or a restaurant.

  2. Do not stress that you do not have it all figured out because “Janice” does. “Janice” and you have individual journeys to take in life and career, you just gotta focus on you.

  3. Keep learning, reading, doing informational interviews, researching, asking questions and being curious. It is totally ok to be interested in multiple areas of the industry for your career. I think it is better than specialising early, making the operating framework box within you bigger.

  4. Pick a few areas of interest that you have in mind, for example, hotel operations, revenue management, and marketing.

  5. Identify a managerial or director level role in each of these fields and what it looks like so that you can set it as an aim.

Aaand now, go to Type A and do steps 1 - 4 for each selected role.

To get help in reviewing your skills and opportunities of the big and beautiful hospitality industry, check out this article that explains just how to do that what questions to ask yourself!

Back to making flexible career plans.

Yes, you need to do them for each selected role, because only going through the process of research and analysis of each area and job you selected, will you be able to understand if that is something you’d like to do.

And if by the end of the exercise, you will want to do them all, go ahead and start pursuing them all and see which one likes you back.

With your research complete, now you need to identify your next step.

Identify your next step

Your next step needs to start filling that gap between where you are now and where you want to be. Research for opportunities in your area (geographical or topical) that will be a starting point to your paths.

And remember, make more plans, draw multiple paths to your future!

Do not worry and spend time overthinking potential what-ifs, it is ok to change your mind later down the line and pursue another path.

It’s ok to change your mind

It is also very important to note that you are likely to change your mind about your career (or some aspect of it) in the future, as you learn and gain new experiences.

Growth and development is part of our human learning process.

You may change your mind completely about hospitality, or you might just change the focus area of work within hospitality. It is totally ok.

It is a lot more common than you think and most people need to test things out and see how they fit, before fully committing to them, such as a career field.

Keep a focus on the thing you are doing now, what your next thing will be and don’t stress about things have not yet happened. There is no way you could anticipate everything.

The only true thing about making a plan is that a good plan can be changed.


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