Have you been passionate about food your whole life but never thought of it as a career path?
It’s time to take action and turn that passion into the career of your dreams before it’s too late! But, how do you change careers into hospitality without putting everything, including your salary, on the line?
Try out one of these five ‘risk-free’ ways to get out of the office and into the kitchen, and you’ll be roasting that pork knuckle in no time.
1. Get a casual job and work your way up.
One of the most common mistakes that people make when transitioning into hospitality from another career, is to underestimate the importance of entry-level work experience in the industry.
Perhaps your dream is to one day open your own restaurant or café, for example. Did you know that 60% of restaurants in Australia fail within the first year? The number one factor is a lack of experience!
Whatever you do, don’t go and start your own restaurant or café without having spent much time working in one, in any capacity. You can land yourself in a lot of debt and some serious trouble as a result.
No matter where you want your career to end up, you need to get some experience in the industry. Waiting tables or working the desk in a hotel is a great way to start, so go get a casual job and see where it takes you.
Start out working even just one or two evenings in a kitchen, and you will be surprised at the knowledge you’ll gain about whole of business operations. Plus, you’ll learn how to work under pressure, gain a lot of soft skills, expand your networks, and develop an appreciation for all the hard work involved in running a hospitality business. You can do all that, without even having to quit your current job!
Remember, most successful hospitality business owners start their career at the bottom, and work their way up.
2. Ask advice from people who are already in your dream job
One of the best ways to understand how to get where you want to be is simply to find someone who’s already there, and ask how they did it.
Want to run your own hotel? Book yourself into a little boutique hotel, and ask to speak to the manager about their career path. Next time you go to your favourite restaurant, ask if you can have a conversation with the chef or the owner when they have a moment.
Don’t be shy! Most people are happy to talk to industry hopefuls about their career journey.
If you’re interested in events, find someone on LinkedIn who’s working your dream job and send them an email. Even looking at their CV will help you to understand what steps you’re going to have to take on your own journey!
If you don’t have any luck trying to speak to people in the industry, there are already plenty of enlightening interviews online, with hospitality movers and shakers. Have a browse through the world’s top hospitality magazines, and you’re sure to find lots of success stories you can learn from.
3. Enrol in a course that allows you to keep working while you train
There are a lot of flexible study options out there these days that will allow you to develop the skills you need for a career change, without having to give up your day job.
Why not try out enrolling for a semester of study, and see how you go? If you don’t like it, you can just stop, and go back to work.
At William Blue, you can choose from a range of part-time or full-time hospitality study options. If you’re not totally sure of your new career path, try starting out with a diploma or bachelor’s degree that can be completed online, or on a flexible schedule to suit your working life.
Best of all, you’ll get some practical experience at student-run William Blue Dining, and complete industry placements as part of your education. With this hands-on experience, you’ll quickly learn whether you’ve chosen the right hospitality career!
4. Do your research and plan it out before you make any big decisions
As the saying goes, ‘failing to plan is planning to fail.’ With any major career move, planning is everything.
Start by writing down where you think you’d like to be, and work backwards to develop a career map. There are literally hundreds of different types of jobs in the hospitality industry. Which area do you want to work in? What skills, knowledge and resources will you need to get there, and how can you acquire them?
Get some advice from a career advisor, talk to people in the industry, and think consciously about what kind of niche you can occupy in the industry (and actual) landscape. If your goal is to run your own business, you’re going to have to learn a whole lot of business skills, on top of the skills that are essential for hospitality work.
If in doubt, check out these helpful planning tools for a career in hospitality.
5. Start small and experiment with side projects
It might be tempting to totally reshape your life, quit your job, take out a loan and open that restaurant you’ve always been dreaming of. Fight the temptation and hold off. The most low-risk way to transition into any new hospitality venture is to start small, and learn as you go while the stakes aren’t so high.
There are plenty of different ways you can get experience in hospitality and test your self out, without putting your livelihood on the line. You can even keep your day job while you’re doing it.
Instead of starting out a whole new restaurant, for example, why not experiment with a short-term, pop-up kitchen, or a once-per-month dining event? Invite your friends, and get them to give you feedback on their experience.
If you want to get into event management, why not pick an area of interest and begin running events in a local community space or venue? Volunteer at a festival, or offer to help organise your local block party. Baby steps are key to a low-risk career transition.
Above all, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Contact one of our friendly student support staff, and they can organise a personal consultation with a career advisor.
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