Are you interested in a career in hospitality? Do you see yourself managing a five-star hotel, resort, vacation tour company, exclusive spa, small bed and breakfast or top-flight restaurant?
If you’re planning to pursue a degree in hospitality management, ideally from one of the top two programs – Cornell or UNLV (University of Nevada, Las Vegas) – you’ll need to first think about what you’ve done in your professional life and personal experiences that have led you to want a career in hospitality, and what you plan to do with the degree.
Here are a few tips as you approach the application process. Make a few notes for yourself on each one so you have an “idea bank” to draw on once you sit down to draft your essays:
• What life experiences (work, travel, or as a guest) have you had that would “translate” into a career in hospitality? (ex. Did you work on a cruise ship one summer, as a sous chef in a café in college, or at Disneyworld? Even something simple, like waitressing, could be worked into an interesting essay).
• What do you see as your dream career in hospitality and how can your background (academic and/or professional) help you achieve that dream?
• What do you see as the future of the global hospitality industry and why? How can you see yourself taking part in that future? (i.e. maybe you speak several languages and see the industry as a very international one, or maybe you care deeply about the environment and see the future as one that focuses on sustainability).
• What inspires you about the world of hospitality? Really try to come up with an honest answer that in some way expresses your passion or vision for the field.
• This is a people profession. What qualities do you have that relate to that type of work? Are you bilingual, outgoing, a great manager, excited about sharing a certain regional food or stunning vista with a wide variety of visitors? Are you perhaps patient (hospitality people have to handle a lot of complaints!) or a perfectionist, or passionate about aesthetics and design? Find the aspects of your unique personality that would work well with this career track.
• Do your homework on the program you’re interested in—why is this program right for you? Do you see yourself running a small hotel in Paris, a huge Hawaiian resort, or teaching at a culinary school in rural New England? Try to find the specific classes, programs, and internship opportunities at the school that feels most right to you, and be prepared to tell them why they are the one for you, and you for them.
By Eliot Sloan, a college writing professor specializing in the personal narrative, a travel journalist, s writing coach, and an admissions counselor. She has helped applicants gain acceptance to top graduate schools, including the Cornell School of Hotel Administration.