For those of you who are currently enrolled in school and pursuing a degree in hospitality management, I’ll let you in on a secret: you are being lied to!
“Not surprising” you might say, as we all already knew that. I should preface this by saying that I think attending a reputable institution that provides higher learning, as well as a few other life lessons, along the way is extremely valuable. Going to college was still one of the best decisions of my life and it laid the foundation for future success, no matter my ultimate career trajectory.
So let’s back up a few years, not decades—I’m not THAT old. I want to cover a few of the myths that were prevalent during my time in school, many of which still hold true today.
Myth #1: You Will Immediately Have A Management Title And Earn $40k/Year
For the vast majority of us, it just wasn’t true. Schools lead you to believe that if you graduate with high enough grades, complete two internships and participate in a handful of extracurricular activities, future employers will line up waiting to hand you a decent paying job with the word manager somewhere in your title. The reality is that if you follow the path they set forth, you will have graduated with about 600-1,200 hours of real world experience spread out over four years, and you may be lucky enough to land a manager-in-training role with a large corporation that pays you somewhere in the neighborhood of $15/hour. Or, you may find yourself working in a line-level capacity at some hotel or club.
Myth #2: Internships And Extracurricular Activities Matter More Than Experience
Your professors likely did not emphasize the fact that real world experience is more important than any extracurricular activity you could participate in while in school. Having this experience also affords students a few added incentives such as extra spending money and the necessary exposure to better determine what career path is best. Having run across countless numbers of students who have come out of school with no clue about what they wanted to do with their degrees, they often have no clue what they want to do and spend the first few years trying out different positions until they’ve found a fit. Imagine if you could graduate with experience, as well as a great trajectory, and what that might mean towards landing a manager title and a decent starting salary?
Myth #3: My Career Path Is Better Than Yours
Is hospitality lucrative? I can remember speaking to one student who told me that his parents were not supportive and were pressuring him into changing his degree to engineering. I quickly explained that while you may not graduate making as much as an engineer, you may very well surpass the earnings potential of that same engineering graduate should you properly apply yourself. The hospitality industry can indeed provide lucrative career paths, but also the opportunity to work in almost every city in the world and have a fun time while at it. While I have only worked in one other industry, I have been exposed to many others either through friends or family. Very satisfied with my choice, I’ve been able to match or exceed the earnings of people in industries often thought of as having the potential for higher paying salaries.
While the myths of holding a degree in hospitality management are numerous, I have only covered a few. In summary, get a job while in school and figure out what you want to do. Next, work hard, be honest and partner with a great company. Above all, enjoy what you do!