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  1. #1
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    Job advice needed: Hospitality and/or restaurant management?

    Hi everyone... So I'm currently in finance but I pretty much loathe my job and am looking to switch careers. I am very passionate about food. One of my ideas is to attend culinary school. From there I would like to go on to eventually become the food & beverage director of a hotel. I'm trying to research the pluses and minuses of that job. Has anybody worked in a management capacity in a hotel and/or restaurant? How was your experience? Pros & cons?

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    Do you work well with the public? Not only will you have to manage your employees which can always be a hassle but you will be the go to person for all complaints and general bitchiness from customers.
    -Brian
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    have you worked in a hotel or restaurant in any capacity yet?
    I feel like I'm in a dream. But it can't be a dream because there are no boy dancers!

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    No, I have no restaurant or hotel experience. Have been working exclusively in finance and am looking to switch careers. The lack of experience is one of the main reasons I'm considering going to culinary school first.

    BigB08822, I have no experience dealing with customers. However at my current job I'm the manager of a bunch of financial analysts who are really lousy. I oversee everything from their daily work to the hiring and training process and I figure if I have gotten these people to be productive even though they suck, then I'm probably OK to deal with hotel employees

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    Don't they offer courses (a degree) in hotel/restaurant management? Seems like culinary school would be a better choice if you wanted to be a chef.
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    snarking for AZE
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    since there are jobs in the industry you can get w/o a degree just to see if it is for you, i would recommend getting some practical experience in the field before quitting my job and going to school for it.
    I feel like I'm in a dream. But it can't be a dream because there are no boy dancers!

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    Niagara has one of the best hotel/restaurant/hospitality programs in the East with a very good placement record. My friend's daughter graduated last year and had several offers, including international ones. She's in Germany now and expects a promotion/transfer soon. Check out the curriculum here.
    AceOn6, the golf loving skating fan

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    Many schools have hotel and restaurant management courses, so that's a good place to start. I would also get a part time job in a hotel while you explore your options and/or go back to school - in the hospitality business, "on the floor" experience/understanding is a must for eventual management positions. In addition, it would give you an opportunity to see what it's like to work in that environment and start to understand the responsibilities and career path better before you jump in with both feet.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ajax View Post
    No, I have no restaurant or hotel experience. Have been working exclusively in finance and am looking to switch careers. The lack of experience is one of the main reasons I'm considering going to culinary school first.

    BigB08822, I have no experience dealing with customers. However at my current job I'm the manager of a bunch of financial analysts who are really lousy. I oversee everything from their daily work to the hiring and training process and I figure if I have gotten these people to be productive even though they suck, then I'm probably OK to deal with hotel employees
    Most reputable culinary schools, and most reputable hotel, restaurant, and travel programs will require that you have worked in a restaurant or similar before you apply. My suggestion is that you get a part-time job in one of the best restaurants in your area, or at a good resort or hotel in food service, doing anything.

    Not only will this help you get into a better school, should you choose to to that route, but it will also give you exposure to the business. Way too many people go to culinary school thinking they'll like it, then when they learn the realities of the work and the pay, they realize it is not a fit. I thus very, very strongly urge you to get related experience asap.
    Use Yah Blinkah!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ajax View Post
    Hi everyone... So I'm currently in finance but I pretty much loathe my job and am looking to switch careers. I am very passionate about food. One of my ideas is to attend culinary school. From there I would like to go on to eventually become the food & beverage director of a hotel. I'm trying to research the pluses and minuses of that job. Has anybody worked in a management capacity in a hotel and/or restaurant? How was your experience? Pros & cons?
    After you've gained a bit of work experience in food, and are thus sure that this is a career that really suits you - another option, if you can relocate, is to apply to Disney in Florida. They take people with backgrounds like yours, and train them to manage their restaurants. I mention it because this is an option a lot of people don't realize exists.
    Use Yah Blinkah!

  11. #11
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    Look into management courses if you want to manage and not be on the line.

    HOWEVER.

    Speaking as someone with a culianary degree (and culinary school, while they do usually make you take dining room and management as one class each, IS aimed at turning out the chefs, who are managers to a degree but won't be starting that way) PLEASE, go get some experience in the back of house (kitchen) and front of house (host/ess, waitstaff, bartender, etc.) Though I will say, I had absolutely no prior experience in restaurants and AS A COOK/BAKER did fine. (Academic courses, such as they are, should be a snap for anyone with a degree from a proper college as unless you're talking CIA or Johnson and Wales it's not by any stretch academically rigorous.)

    Most hotel/restauarant managers don't actually deal with either the hands-on labor or with the day to day customers as much as BOH or FOH staff, and sometimes that can cause real problems as they don't always get why their management-oriented suggestions don't work as well as they think they should. There's a real science to a kitchen running during service, and it has more to do with the executive chef, the maitre'd, and their staffs than with the office staff. If the person in the office doesn't get that, or if they're the 'we're doing things MY WAY or else' type, it can make the kitchen a really awful place to work. One thing I will say from experience about franchises (I worked in the kitchen for a Melting Pot) is they are very good for new-management types because corporate WILL train you, too, while an independent place you're on your own and you're in charge of a staff that may well include people with more practical experience than you.

    Do you mind a "boys club" environment, if you want to be in the kitchen? The line is a fast-paced, no-fooling kind of place and if you cannot take...blunt coworkers...and give as good as you get, you will get no respect.

    Hotel management is another story entirely. It's VERY corporate, you are very removed from the kitchens in most cases (my friend is an in-room dining manager for the Bellagio and she has absolutely no culinary experience beyond being married to a chef who works somewhere else. She does have a psych degree with comes in handy.) It's essentially business management.

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    I worked as a housekeeping supervisor in 2 hotels for ~13 years in the 80's to early 90's. My first job was in a large Hilton, my second job was in a mid sized high priced hotel.

    I worked my way up from shift supervisor to Executive Housekeeper. I loved the work when I was doing it. It was physically active and with housekeeping you are involved in all areas of the hotel (f&b, front desk, reservations, decorating, maintenance). I worked with unions and strong management so it was intense but that was part of what I liked about it.

    The reason I left was that I started getting tired of long hours and upredictable schedules, which is the downside if you have a family or are trying to go to school. Also the trend was starting at that time to use outside contractors instead of developing your own staff. You ended up with part-time people working 3 jobs, they weren't ideal employees.

    It did give me great management experience and I went on to a job with the federal government which is rewarding (cancer research).

    I had a liberal arts degree and a lot of energy it was a great way to get hands on business experience. But I think you should also have a exit plan as you get older, to me anyway, it is a job that favors the young.

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    Johnson and Wales has a weekend degree program specifically for people who have full-time jobs. My friend's sister has been taking the culinaary degree trackfor two-and-a half years (12 hours every Sunday) and is due to graduate this spring.

    Hotel management is a whole other program, though. Can you try for a job in the finance dept. of a hotel chain and work your way in from there?
    I'd rather be thought of as absolutely ridiculous than as absolutely boring.

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    Quote Originally Posted by zaphyre14 View Post
    Hotel management is a whole other program, though. Can you try for a job in the finance dept. of a hotel chain and work your way in from there?
    Good thought. Almost every hotel needs numbers folks for the nightly processes.
    AceOn6, the golf loving skating fan

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    My niece (K) graduated from a hotel management program and worked in hotel management for several years. She got tired of the rude customers, drunk customers, etc. and long hours. So if you haven't had experience with customer service, dealing with difficult people and I would say that co-workers is different than contact with outside your area difficult people experience. She no longer works in the hotel management field.
    Find others who work in the field, both in hotels like Hilton and then in hotels like Marriot Country Inns. Discuss with them the pros and cons of the field.
    People often change careers and then are not happy with that either because they really didn't research what it would be like to work in that field.

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    I don't have any experience in that field either, but a general suggestion to anyone who is interested in a field is to try to arrange an "informational interview" with someone who works in the area. Many people are surprisingly generous when it comes to sharing some of their time and experience to help people who are interested in their area of expertise. I'd try to see if I knew anyone who knew anyone and ask if they'd be willing to take 30 minutes and talk with me about their career path.

    If you don't know anyone, you might even have luck contacting a hotel near you, getting a name for someone in that field and writing a letter.
    "The Devil is joining in, and that's never a good sign." Phil Liggett

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by danceronice View Post
    Do you mind a "boys club" environment, if you want to be in the kitchen? The line is a fast-paced, no-fooling kind of place and if you cannot take...blunt coworkers...and give as good as you get, you will get no respect.
    I second this. My husband was the executive sous chef at a St. Regis hotel -- he ran the restaurant while the executive chef ran the banquets. He is the nicest person out of the kitchen, but he is so mean in the kitchen that we used to call him Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Not quite as over the top as Gordon Ramsay, but not totally unlike him either. Can't have a thin skin. Tempers get hot in the kitchen. And it was pretty much 24/7.
    I think I will have a snack and take a nap before I eat and go to sleep.

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    Thank you so much for your suggestions, everyone. I've noted down all your points and will take them under consideration. To clarify the situation a bit, I'm a foreigner living in the US. I would really like to stay here for personal reasons. My visa is tied to my employer - I am not allowed to go to school and work at the same time, or to work two jobs, or basically do any job that is not related to finance. As you can imagine this complicates the situation... I've become totally disillusioned with finance and really want to switch to something else but getting practical experience is not possible due to this visa problem. Going to school seems to be my only option for a career change if I want to stay in the US.

    I don't want to be working in the kitchen. I'm aware of the "boy's club" mentality (I'm female), the long hours, lack of vacation, the stress. Don't think that's a job for me. But I definitely want to be involved in food somehow. I have some managerial experience in the finance field, so I thought food director in a hotel might be a good career aspiration. I do know a few people in the industry and have already set up some informational interviews for next week Hopefully they'll offer more clarification on the pros and cons of the job.

    It's very frustrating to be limited by the visa, to feel that all your years of education and work experience are in a field you no longer want to work in, and to not know exactly what you want to do instead. I admit I'm a bit desperate

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    You might want to look into "night accountant" positions at hotels--again, not everyone's idea of great hours, but it does get your foot in the door.

    The 'boy's club' thing is not so bad if you can dish it out as well as take it. (I had only one problem person, and he got away with murder because he was working under the table for the manager's catering business on the side, so the rest of us quit.) And remember if you're a manager, you'll still be dealing with it to some degree--you have to be able to stand up to the EC and get him/her on your side if you want the kitchen to run smoothly. Basically any food-service, especially where it's either high-volume or high-end, requires serious backbone, willingness to work long hours, and the ability to take and dish out crap. For me, not so bad (and preferable to fluffy-bunny 'cooperative' environments), and if you've worked in finance I'd hope you're not a shrinking violet or a pushover!

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ajax View Post
    It's very frustrating to be limited by the visa, to feel that all your years of education and work experience are in a field you no longer want to work in, and to not know exactly what you want to do instead. I admit I'm a bit desperate
    Are you H1B? It might be hard to find a sponsored position, but I suspect the major chains that have international presence may be your best bet. You'd have to stay in finance for the initial position, but you might be able to be renewed into a different slot if your potential employer is willing to do the legwork. Unfortunately, it costs the employers time and money to do this, so they'd have to be very happy with you and with your rate before they'd even bother.

    Do you currently work with an attorney who knows the process? If so, perhaps s/he could direct you to likely employers.
    AceOn6, the golf loving skating fan

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