Advice for High School Students and Hospitality Careers

At BENCHMARQUE, inspiring the next generation of hospitality professionals is our passion. We strive to achieve this through expert-led trainings, a thorough interview process that helps polish hospitality skills of interviewees, and our efforts toward elevating hospitality as a sustainable career. We are pleased to see those as young as high school age show an interest in pursuing hospitality in school and after graduation.

Advice for High School Students and Hospitality Careers

I recently spoke to a group of New South Wales high school teachers who were visiting the Kenvale College of Hospitality, Cookery and Events in Sydney to learn more about options their students have in hospitality and how to start building their hospitality careers. I can relate to these students, as I started my 23 years industry experience at McDonald's. A young, but positive employment experience such as this presents opportunities to sharpen teamwork, understand customer expectations, evaluate process and workplace efficiencies in restaurant organisation and so many more vital skills needed in fine dining up to hospitality management. Casual jobs in hospitality are ideal for high school and university students who need a flexible schedule to accommodate their studies.

Besides gaining valuable experience working in hospitality while in high school, there are a few other ways young students can get a leg up on their future hospitality careers.

 

Start Building a Resumé

In addition to listing work experience on a résumé, being a part of school organisations is a way high school students can show off important attributes that are desirable in hospitality management. A leadership role in student council signals the candidate is sociable and works well with others. A membership in an honour society can indicate a quick learner and a person who strives for detailed perfection.

Students should also be aware that an eye-catching résumé layout that is still professional will stand out to someone who is hiring. Obtaining graphic design help can be a huge asset. Current contact information including a professional email address is vital. Using an objective or descriptions under work experiences and organisations to tell stories that convey hospitality skills can help high school students. Find more of our tips for résumé writing for hospitality here. Secured the interview? Check out our blog on interview tips for hospitality jobs here.

 

Cultivate Soft Skills

A great personality, confidence, honesty, empathy, kindness, positivity, patience, teamwork and a passion for the world of hospitality are all traits that are essential for a successful hospitality career. Technical skills can always be learned on the job, but these core intrinsic characteristics are what really make workers shine and advance quickly. It’s OK to fail and make mistakes in a new role. It's how you recover and learn from them that will help you grow. 

A hospitality career requires maintaining composure in busy and sometimes stressful situations. High school students who are interested in working in hospitality should embrace public speaking opportunities and group projects that are presented to them, although students who are introverted can also have rewarding careers in hospitality. Listening and displaying a caring attitude are two of the most important ways those in hospitality can serve their customers. Find more essential traits for careers in hospitality here.

 

Find a Mentor

For high school students, finding someone they look up to who can offer career support and guidance has a positive impact on their growth. Research has found mentors are instrumental in developing mentees who hold leadership positions, and high school students who have mentors are more likely to attend school and have better attitudes toward education. A mentor at the student's place of work delivers these benefits and may also help the student achieve higher gains in hospitality, and therefore the lifestyle they desire.

If a student finds a mentor they connect with at a workplace, working with them for an extended period of time can help them develop management qualities or find a path to advancing their career. A mentor can also help expand a high school student's education of hospitality knowledge, by teaching them information related to wine varietals or produce, for example or just real life expectations of the upside and the downside. Wherever the student is working, they should strive to identify a possible mentor and start building a relationship that can help them for many years to come.

 

Be Mindful of Social Media

High school students should keep in mind that 93% of recruiters in Australia check social media sites when hiring, and that includes for hospitality jobs. Everything that is added to an online profile may live on the Internet forever, even if the student deletes it. It's vital to start thinking professionally when using social media now, since a respected reputation is so well-regarded in hospitality.

One way to boost one's social profile is to create a LinkedIn profile. High school students ages 16 and older may join LinkedIn, a professional network with 3.6 million Australian members. On LinkedIn, a high school student can create a web page listing professional experience and skills that relate to hospitality, which their contacts can endorse them for. They can also display recommendations from teachers and employers. For high school students who want their professional LinkedIn profile to represent them to web searchers, they can purchase the domain of their name and link it to their LinkedIn profile. They can start connecting with industry professionals on the network -- including the BENCHMARQUE team.

 

Self-Study

There are so many amazing resources for high school students to start checking out now that will give them an advantage when they're interviewing for jobs. Our blog, which you're on now, is a great place to start.

High school students shouldn't limit themselves to one type of hospitality role, either. For example, working events is a way to gain insight into set-up, the inner workings of equipment and labor, and how to handle a larger flow of traffic than one would encounter in a venue like a café. Even putting together a dinner party for friends can give students a better understanding of whether they're fit for a chef career or want to start out on the floor as a waiter.

One thing is certain: try not to base your first hospitality job on what your potential career could look like. Get out there, explore, and use the experience to find a positive and supportive employer. You won’t be a waiter or bartender forever, but the role will most definitely take you places if you allow it to.

 

Contact BENCHMARQUE for Hospitality Courses and Work Opportunities

If you are or know a high school student in Sydney who is looking to learn more about hospitality or gain a hospitality job, we can help. We're thrilled to offer 3-hour restaurant courses that are available for on-site group bookings, where high school students can learn skills ranging from plate carrying and tray service, to suggestive selling, handling complaints and grooming standards.

We're also hiring those who are ages 18 and older for a wide range of hospitality positions, including casual events roles. High school students who meet the age requirement and have a current Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) certificate can apply for a hospitality job here.

 

It is my goal to inspire more high school students to consider a role in hospitality and make Australia's level of service the global standard. If you teach high school students in New South Wales and would like me to present on behalf of BENCHMARQUE to them, I'm happy to do so. Please email me at marlowe@benchmarque.co. And if you know a high school student interested in hospitality, please send them the link below to subscribe to our hospitality blog.

 

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About the author Marlowe Bennett

With 22 years of experience and over 23,000 professional hours working across Sydney’s hospitality industry, our content aims to inspire young candidates to pursue professional careers and to help operators grow compliantly.

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