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Hospitality & Tourism: Work Experience
Getting solid work experience in a field which is relevant to the career you are hoping to pursue is still one of the most effective ways of impressing a future employer.
The diversity of work experience opportunities available in the hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism (HLTT) sector is a reflection of what a varied industry it is. Indeed, there are all kinds of work experience opportunities up for grabs in different areas, from front-of-house to entertainment and events.
Even a few days of on-the-job experience should be enough to give you a sense of what’s involved, and help you decide which route might be best for you.
Some placements—in a hotel or holiday park, for example—may even offer you the option to try several different roles within the same organisation; giving you a fantastic overview of how the business works and what areas are most appealing to you.
Customer service & soft skills…
Whatever role you’re interested in, one of the most crucial skills for people working in the HLTT industry is customer service. Consequently, any work experience that offers you the opportunity to develop your skills in this area should be invaluable.
Customer service is one of the key areas where HLTT businesses struggle to find skilled staff (64% report that the customer service skills in their current workforce need improving*), which makes it particularly important to emphasise your experience in this area.
Other ‘soft skills’ such as the ability to work in a team and communicate well at all levels are also highly prized in HLTT, and it will be important to show that you have experience of putting these into practice when interviewing for a job.
Another great thing about getting work experience under your belt in the HLTT sector is that many of the skills you will pick up are transferable to other industries, such as the ability to think on your feet, deal with the public and provide a high level of service.
These might seem like quite basic skills, but employers from all areas of work will be looking for candidates who have a proven track record of demonstrating practical skills as well as academic qualifications.
Flexibility & commitment…
Those with experience in most areas of HLTT will also be able to demonstrate a flexible attitude to work, as many roles in hospitality require you to work irregular shifts (during evenings, weekends and holidays) and take on additional shifts where necessary.
Experience of working in this fast-moving environment will demonstrate an awareness of the realities and demands of the industry, and will underline your commitment to employers.
Building up a network of contacts…
While there are obviously no guarantees that a work experience placement will immediately lead to paid work, the contacts you make along the way could be extremely useful in introducing you to other people in the industry, or recommending you for jobs in a similar company. Be sure to take advantage of any networking opportunities whilst you’re on your work experience placement—you never know when these contacts may be prove valuable later on in your career.
Above all, the right work experience placement will give you the opportunity to ‘test the waters’ of a new career and ensure you are pursuing the right path before committing. It also shows an enthusiasm for the industry and a willingness to learn that could set you apart from other candidates in this competitive job market.
Written by Emily McDonald
Project Manager @ UKSP
For more information about work experience in the hospitality and tourism industry, visit UKSP.co.uk
*Statistics taken from the People 1st State of the Nation report, 2011.