A career in hotels in certainly not an easy one but apart from the working hours and interactions with hotel guests, you chose the hospitality industry because you love it and because you want to build your career in it.
Do not forget the work it takes to build a career.
In this article, I will focus on the key element of building your hotel career: leading yourself.
What should you expect after graduation? Let me set your expectations right.
What does leading yourself mean when starting a career in a hotel? Let me give you some examples.
You are studying for a degree at a university and you have been given a class schedule to follow. So you know where you need to be and when.
As part of your classes, you know what assignments are expected of you and what course objectives are, so you just need to learn the information.
Within your university or your degree, you probably have a study counsellor or a career advisor to go to. You can always approach your professors if you have a question about their class or assignments.
That is a wonderfully organised and supported environment that allows you to focus on course information, writing your assignments, learning, and enjoying yourself. You always have someone to reach out to for support.
The real world is not like that. In fact, it’s the complete opposite.
The real world
Once you graduate and enter the workforce, you are on your own.
Your manager will not have an endless amount of patience and will not have “open office hours” where you can come and ask questions.
Your manager will show you how to do your job, where things are, they will make sure you complete any virtual or face to face mandatory training and set you free.
After that, all they really care about is that you are doing your job.
They care that you are following expected standards and operating procedures, making hotel guests happy, not messing up in clerical duties, and are on time.
They do not care whether you think you have fulfilled your career potential, or if you are bored at work. Can you take on more responsibility without a pay increase or a promotion? That’s what they care about.
No, not all managers are like that. Yes, this is a generalisation. But it doesn’t make it less true.
You will probably have a manager like that and likely more than once. You also probably will meet a great manager that will genuinely care about you. No, there is no way you can tell in advance.
Better that you prepare for the worst and be pleasantly surprised later on.
As I discussed in this article on How to Choose the Right Hotel to Start Your Career, your initial career kick off does not depend on the brand or category of the hotel you choose, it depends on the people you meet.
This is why you cannot rely on others to lead you and your career for you, you need to lead yourself.
Let me tell you what it means.
While you are most certainly already practising the leadership skill/s in your group assignments and other social engagements, in a hotel environment it takes another form. That is accountability, honesty, trust, and professionalism.
Most importantly, leading yourself is about being accountable.
Firstly, you need to be accountable to yourself. And secondly, showing accountability to your colleagues and managers.
Truth is, the kind of leadership roles you have right now at university, you will not have when you start your career in hotels. You will need to work your way up to the responsibility.
Here are things you can do to show yourself as a desirable employee:
> Be proactive, raise your hand and volunteer to join projects, even if they are out of your job scope.
> Ask questions. If you are worried about asking questions in group settings, find time with a supervisor, colleagues or your manager and ask individually.
> Stay updated with the industry news and trends.
> Schedule 1-2-1 meetings with your manager on a regular basis to check-in.
> Schedule meetings with other departments to learn what they do so that you can build a holistic image of the business, start connecting the dots and building relationships.
Doing at least these things should be a regular activity for you. Decide on the frequency and your goals of each and work towards that each month.
Your monthly goals could look like this:
Join one initiative at the hotel that allows me to learn something new and engage with new colleagues.
Read global and local industry news once a week on a Sunday.
Have two 1-2-1 meeting with your direct supervisor and discuss your development, progress towards your goals, and how your other initiatives are going (give you’ve joined one).
Speak to two people outside of my department and find out what they do, note what interests you and how you could improve your current professional relationship.
This is a tricky topic because it is all about you and I know it can be hard to keep ourselves in check. I personally have always found it hard to follow up on promises to myself, so this requires stamina and focus that goes beyond motivation.
I thought it would be helpful to gauge any questions you may have with a Q&A.
Q: What is a 1-2-1 meeting?
A: A 1-2-1 is a meeting between yourself and your manager where you have an interrupted period of time together. This is a time you should have your managers full attention so that you can seek advice and show them that you are working hard, developing, and want to move forward.