Where To Start When You Don't Know Where To Start | Hospitality Student Career Options

There are thousands of career options in the hospitality industry, where do you begin?


How do you figure out what to do? Some of us know what we want but many of us don’t.


I didn't know back when I was a student just like you.


This is for hospitality and tourism students that do not know what they want to do and don’t know where to start with trying to figure it out.




Forget about the plan


When you’re interested in a little bit of everything and don’t know what you want to do, it is really hard to know where to begin. Old school career advice isn’t helpful either.


“Decide on your 5 and 10-year career goals and make a plan to get there.”

How? How do you figure it out?


It’s helpful when you know you want something specific.


But if you’re starting from scratch, you’re young and don’t have any experience, it’s the worst career advice ever.


A 5-year plan is such an outdated concept. It only applies to a small % of people that know exactly what they want to do and doesn’t really work anymore.


Look at 2020 for example! How many career plans were shattered this year? And how many were accelerated into new territories?



4 reasons why career plans won’t work for you right now


5 or 10-year career plans are inflexible by design and hence wrong for those of us that like to keep an open mind and go with the flow of things. Especially if we don't know where we're going!


1. They do not consider future jobs don’t exist yet.


2. They do not consider an unexpected change of plans outside of our control.


3. When not fulfilled to a t, they leave you full of disappointment. Rather than excitement for other opportunities and achievements.


4. And most importantly, they do not allow you to change your mind.


Start with a blank piece of paper


We all start at a blank slate. When you are a blank piece of paper it’s hard to make decisions.


We make decisions based on previous experiences and positive or negative connections with them.


Each new experience is like a filter added to our worldview. With each new filter, we begin to narrow things down to what we like and don’t like.


Every new experience guides to towards something as well as away from something.


You are currently on a blank sheet, anything is possible.


But where do you go first? Let me help you with this important first step in your career in the hospitality industry.



Step 1: Get experience


You need to start gaining basic first experiences in the hospitality industry.


The key to this is to gain a variety of experiences across the spectrum so that you can explore different areas of interest and then base your future decisions on that.


It’s a bit like gaining skills in video games. You need to learn to run fast, jump high, and collect coins along the way before you specialise in one skill. Without the basic skills, your specialisation will not be as strong.


If you have 4 similar experiences, in restaurants only, for example, you will only restaurants. You won’t know what else you might like or be good at.


But if you have a range of 4 different experiences, you will be able to choose one of them or a mix to zoom in on. On top of that, you will have a wider network of people.



Start by getting experience in these areas

  • Events

  • Hotels

  • Human resources recruitment


Events is really an all-encompassing area where you both need to plan, replan and act quickly on your feet during the event.


In hotels, you should do your best to learn a bit of everything if you can. It will not always be possible so at the very least, get solid experience in front office guest experience.


While HR is not for everything, getting experience in recruitment is great to build perspective. You will understand what's it like to be on the other side and gain some admin office experience meanwhile.


I strongly recommend that you also get experience in Restaurants and Bars. There is nothing that teaches you about people as being behind the bar at 3 am with people wanting their “last drink”.



Whenever you can, try to get some experience with the admin side of the business. A restaurant and a kitchen are more than the service and the food they serve, don’t forget that it’s a business like any other.