Are you heading into a catering and hospitality career with eyes wide open or eyes wide shut? Make sure you know your facts from your fiction.
You don’t need to be a TV chef to have a five star career in catering and hospitality. There are other myths about the industry too, and it’s important to get those myths busted faster than a beaten egg if you’re a Young Professional thinking about what to do in life.
Myth 1: Getting a hospitality and catering degree won’t help you get a job
Really? The truth is that 95% of hospitality graduates are employed. There are plenty of routes in for those who are looking at entry level and apprenticeships too.
Myth 2: You’ll never get to use your IT and social skills
It’s really not true that you’ll be stuck in front of a dishwasher or spend your life clearing away dirty plates.
IT is a big part of hospitality and catering today. As a food technologist you’ll use loads of IT skills to research data from your experiments (which include making up new ingredients and flavours). You’ll also get the chance to flex your IT muscles as a food manufacturing inspector.
Or maybe you especially love the social side of things – in which case, how about looking into becoming a catering or events manager? Your work life will be buzzing, with your phone ringing off the hook – and your Google-fu will come into play for researching venues, suppliers and building up your little black book of network contacts.
Finally, let’s not forget that catering and hospitality is a BIG industry. For every big restaurant chain there’s a head office, where you’ll find the likes of social media managers, advertising copywriters and website designers at play.
And how about food delivered straight to your door? As with everything else in the world, there’s an app for that. And apps – and big takeaway hubs that show you what you can order in your area – need young people with IT, social and editorial skills to make the process slick and keep the brand in the public eye.
As an example, you have to love the social media teams working on Twitter accounts like Just Eat, Burger King and more. Their social accounts are filled with personality, jokes, feelgood visuals, viral memes and… in the case of some brands… even friendly flame-wars with competitors!
Myth 3: Hospitality and catering are temporary jobs that don’t lead anywhere
Er. The short answer is ‘no’.
The longer answer…
Hospitality and catering is filled with management roles you can work towards, and the truth is you always have to start somewhere.
From volunteering as festival crew to waiting on tables, or giving advice and fresh food to customers as a counter service assistant, you are building genuinely valuable experience. It can lead to promotion, higher salaries based on experience, contacts made through networking, and a chance to build life and work skills that can be applied to almost any job in the world.
Celebrity chefs start out by washing dishes in the kitchen. You can’t run a hotel with your own vision of what the perfect stayaway looks like without having worked in a hotel first. And you certainly can’t manage a major Twitter account or festival event without having put the time in to learn the basics of the job.
Hospitality and catering offers great future career prospects – and more ways in at ground level than lots of other industries, too. Win-win.
Myth 4: There’s no chance for personal development
If you’ve ever thought there’s no chance for personal development in a hospitality and catering career, you’ve got one important thing right: personal development is very important. It’s something you SHOULD look for in a job.
A career in hospitality or catering allows for lots of personal development because of all the face-time you’re getting with other people. You’re very likely to build close working relationships with clients as well as your work colleagues. It’s hard not to build strong work relationships with people whose working life is centred around ensuring people have a good time.
In addition, many employers offer structured (and paid) development programmes in the form of traineeships and apprenticeships. Some hospitality and catering apprenticeships have the built-in opportunity to help you work towards a foundation degree.
On top of that, there are fantastic hospitality and catering apprenticeships, degrees and further education qualifications available in anything from events management to food science. Graduates in these areas are in demand, and you can also study part-time while you’re working.
Myth 5: It’s not glamorous
Serving finger-food at celebrity weddings and awards ceremonies? Arranging big events and festivals? Dancing around the tables with your co-workers when the last customer is out of the door and it’s time to clean up for tomorrow? Travelling around the UK and sometimes the world?
It’s not glamorous? OK. If you say so.
The ultimate truth? It’s what you make it. There are enough opportunities that you can follow the glamour if that’s your heart’s desire. And if you rethink glamour to include good times and a sense of personal satisfaction at expanding your achievements, you’ll have all the fun in the world.
A catering and hospitality career… treat others, treat yo’self
Your experience counts, and you can start building experience early with summer and part-time jobs. Qualifications can take you far, but people skills and dedication are just as important and often higher on an employer’s list of must-haves.
More good news? You can command top salaries around £80,000 (if you’re an events manager at the height of your game) and you’ll most likely find lots of opportunities for Young Professionals in your area, as everyone everywhere needs to eat, drink and play.
Treat yourself to a second look at a hospitality and catering career. It’s rewarding to do well for yourself in an industry where the main aim is to help others enjoy themselves.