There are many benefits to being a hotelier and graduating from one of the world’s top hotel school – one of it is to travel back to where it all started – Switzerland.
As part of the pioneer batch of the Ascent Graduate Management Trainee, I had the opportunity to represent my company in career fairs organized by the Swiss Education Group and Les Roches in October. It was such a privilege and honour to be able to give back to the community which has created the stepping stone for me to be where I am today.
Having been on both sides of the table now, I would like to share some wisdom to aspiring hoteliers when approaching prospective employers:
1. SOME COMPANIES ARE HIDDEN GEMS – ALWAYS GO WITH AN OPEN MIND
The best thing about career fairs or company information sessions is the platform to know more about different types of companies in the hospitality and tourism industry. While there are many well-known organisations because of how omnipresent they are in big cities, there are some niche companies which could present interesting opportunities too. For example, I was aiming at a management training program – for someone with limited experience in the hospitality sector, I wasn’t a top contender as these places are limited and competitive in many hotels, let alone the mainstream hotel brands. However, curiousity led me to attend the information session by Minor Hotel Group and the rest was history.
2. RECRUITERS DON’T BITE – FOCUS ON BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS
Like many small luxury hotel groups, Minor Hotel Group may not be a household name internationally yet, however, it is a fast growing company in the luxury resort sector. During this career fair, I was shocked by the audacity of some students – the first question that they ask, when not knowing anything about the company at all, was not, ‘tell me more about your company’ (to which we would gladly share with you), but rather something related to what they wanted, ‘do you have a property in Switzerland?’; ‘are you holding interviews today?’ (and when we answered no, they simply shrugged us off without any further word).
Yes, we understand that you are anxious about being hired; we were in your shoes once. The truth is, as I found out during the fair where my company’s representatives were speaking with other representatives to draw the six degree of separation, and having been told over and over again – the hospitality industry is very small. While this company may not be a suitable option in this season of your life, you might reconsider it for the next position, so don’t burn bridges prematurely!
What really works is having a genuine conversation with the representative – getting to hear how they started and how they got to where they are. You’d be surprised how open they are to answering your questions and in sharing encouraging words as you are to embark on the start of your career.
3. THE INTERVIEW STARTS AT THE FIRST HELLO – PUT ON YOUR BEST SMILE
At a career fair or information session where you have the chance to mingle with many new people, always put on your best smile and positive attitude as you never know who you might meet!
While my company was not hiring immediately that day, there were candidates who stood out to us because we can see their passion and sparkle in their eyes during our interaction with them.
There’s also the indirect influence factor – the person whom you speak to may not be the hiring manager, however, because they have met you, the hiring manager may ask them for their first impression of you, which could make or break you.
From a student’s perspective, it is easy to feel intimidated when approaching any prospective company in a completely normal way as we feel that if we don’t get it right the first time we would be ruining an opportunity, and also because we don’t have any idea what the recruiters are thinking! Sometimes, it’s more important to be yourself, and let things happen naturally. Approach the company representatives and get to know them as you would like to be approached by someone new during a first encounter – be interested in them, and they’ll naturally be interested in you.
I hope that this gives you a perspective from the other side and that you will have the confidence and positive attitude when attending information sessions in the future! All the best!