One of the fantastic opportunities about studying hospitality is seeking work experience in the industry as part of our studies. As a postgraduate student who will be graduating this May, I feel nervous yet excited at the same time because the possibilities are endless and you don’t want to end up on the wrong path.
Previously, while preparing for my first job-hunting experience, I read many articles and books giving career advice. One of the best books I have encountered so far, and has been recommended as the job-search bible is ‘What Color is Your Parachute’ by Richard Bolles. He artfully summarizes how a typical employer looks for a job in an inverse triangle below, the exact opposite of how a typical employee starts their job search. As such, if you are at the bottom of the triangle, the chances of you being successful in your job-hunt is lower than if you employed the strategy of starting at the same place as your potential employers.
At Les Roches, we are fortunate that most of our job-hunting strategies begin at the top of this triangle. The Career Development and Internship Placement (CDIP) Team has been fantastic at being consistently successful in welcoming at least 50 companies on campus each semester. These companies represent different sectors, including hotels, fashion, media and events. It gives us students great exposure, as we learn more about different culture and products and services of companies.
With more than 1000 students at Les Roches and other hotel students around the world, how can we differentiate ourselves from the competition? In addition to attending presentations and meeting recruiters, here are some networking tips which I have found useful when looking for information or a job position.
TIP 1: BEING ACTIVE ONLINE
As the current workforce is extremely active online, companies are also becoming more prominent in various social media platforms including Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. I found it encouraging to be able to identify myself to these companies and ask more information about the opportunities available in their company. Many have been prompt in responding and have been helpful in pointing me towards the right direction.
Other ways to stand out and be identified is by generating content, or providing comments on LinkedIn groups. Some groups which I have found useful include: Luxury Hoteliers and Internships in Hotel Management. It is also a great place to read about the latest industry news.
I have also gotten in touch with a hotelier on Quora.com, asking her about the company culture and how has her career developed to date. Not only has she responded diligently to all my questions, she has also provided insights into the industry, which led me to look at my career development from a different perspective.
TIP 2: PICK UP THE PHONE AND CALL TO ASK FOR MORE INFORMATION
With the pervasiveness of technology, it is easier for us to hide behind our screens rather than make the effort to meet up with someone. The HR representative from Hyatt International highly encouraged students to call HR to find out more about opportunities within the hotel.
Although I have had experience of cold-calling previously, the thought of calling someone still frightens me! However, I managed to brave up and make a few phone calls to hotels to ask for information which cannot be found on their websites. This includes: the top skills the company is looking for, and the kinds of people who usually apply. I managed to build rapport with an HR manager and found out that there were more people applying to their internship positions than management trainee position; there you go, opportunity!
TIP 3: GET TO KNOW PEOPLE, BE FRIENDLY AND KIND
Considering the number of students who have been on internship and back, as well as teachers from industry, there are plenty of connections available on campus. It’s only a matter of letting the right people know what you want and prove that you are worthy of a recommendation. I was fortunate to be supported by an MBA student from the previous semester who knows HR directors and is willing to connect me with the right people.
In addition, having stayed back at a presentation recently and asked the company representatives the right questions, I was one of the first few to be informed of their graduate program application opening – I am awaiting their final decision and hoping that there will be a positive outcome!
While ‘networking’ may seem like an intimidating term, perhaps it might be helpful to look at it as ‘building relationships’, or getting to know someone better. If you put yourself out there to get to know people, you’d be surprised at how helpful they are. When the next person comes up to you for advice or directions, hopefully, in turn, you will be gladly willing to pay it back.