Careers in Food, Drink and Hospitality

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How to Prepare for a Career in Food, Drink and Hospitality

Seeking Careers in Foodie? You’ve Got to Know these Power Points: 

If you’ve been thinking about  a career in the food, beverage and hospitality industry chances are that you have what it takes to perform and excel there. It is also okay if the idea of cooking, baking, interacting with others, and smiling (that’s right, SMILING!) -even when you don’t have to- never appeals to you. This is because by using the process of elimination or by simply conducting a personality test on yourself, you can pretty much conclude on whether you do or  don’t belong in food, drink and hospitality industry.

Depending on what role you play, career in food, beverage and hospitality isn’t meant for everyone.  Generally, the set of roles in the field are categorized into two. They are ‘Back of the House’ (BOH) or simply called “Back” and ‘Front of the House’ (FOH)  or simply called “Front.”   The role you play or the one you are assigned in each of these categories will depend on  your personal interest, prior experience, motivation and goals.

Below are a list of roles you can play in each category:

For the Front-

  1. Host and Hostesses
  2. Cashiers
  3. Servers
  4. Waiters and Waitresses
  5. Counter Staff
  6. Bussers and Runners
  7. Bartenders
  8. Security/Bouncers

For the Back-

  1. Chief/Senior/Executive Chef (each can specialize in certain areas of food and taste eg- a baker, etc.
  2. Chef (Associate, Assistant. etc)
  3. Line Cook
  4. Prep Cook
  5. Busser
  6. Dishwasher
  7. Food Delivery Staff

Note that depending on the structure of your workplace, roles in the Front and in the Back can be fused together at times, and titles may sound like ‘Associate’, ‘Crew Member’, etc. For example, a Food Delivery person can be assigned to clock in as the Runner or Busser for the day.

What you need to get  jobs in the Foodie Industry –

Generally, finding jobs in most fields may be harder than most applicants bargain for, however, the prospect of getting a job in the food industry isn’t as difficult as others. Having some experience, good reference, and the ability to demonstrate what you bring to the table is key. Finally, to get a job in this field, and also to keep it, a  candidate must maintain a flexible schedule.

What level of education is required to work in the field?

Honestly, a basic or elementary education will do although in a market environment that favors employers, you can expect some of them to look for High School Diploma or higher degrees as a way of identifying quality candidates. If you have any culinary certificate or Food Handler/Food Safety certificate, great. If you do not, don’t sweat it. Having those certificates isn’t necessarily an indicator that a candidate would turn out a good employee.

What Employers are mostly looking for in the field-

Employers in the food and drink industry are majorly looking for someone who has a fit of personality. The common way to put it is “a people person”.  Indeed, they have no problem extending the learning curve of their newly hired, or investing in the time and energy needed to help  strengthen their existing skills. 

Individual personality isn’t what any employer can mode to their tastes and desires making your candidacy attractive if you already possess what they are looking for. They seek candidates that are reliable and that will get to work even when it’s snowing. Their hearts melt for employees who are diligent, coachable, and who are willing to help employers maximize the dollar margin spent to keep them around. Below are some personality types that suggest you are built for this work environment:

  • Love to talk and connect with others( vital for the Front role)
  • High energy, extroverted, not too shy or reserved
  • Adaptable and love challenges
  • Secure, humble and tough skinned
  • Can produce smile on their face as needed
  • Enjoy working in teams

Breaktime and Downtime-

If you are the type that needs all kinds of break- lunch break, cigarette break, water break, text-chat break, etc you should reconsider as you’d constantly be hitting head with your boss. Restaurants’ jobs require constant presence of employees and attention to customers. Excessive break needs could be a problem unless when serious necessity calls for it, and you’ve previously notified your supervisor.

Similarly, there’s no downtime with this work. If the store is open, you’ll always and must always find work to do. According to a professional Chef and the co-owner of Point Bistro, Alhaji Cisse, “even during downtime, an employee should find something to do to better the store or risk having to be sent home for the day.”

Growth Prospect in Food and Beverage Career-

Most jobs in foodie are usually entry level leaving the onus on the candidate to figure things out on career growth. Since the industry is vast, and career paths are interwoven by a candidate’s specific interest and motivations, it’s difficult to prescribe any career growth paths here.

Though technology is ruling the day these days, and many traditional jobs as we know them are threatened, there appears to be a continuous growth in the field which means, as an employee in the food industry, you’d always have jobs. According to the New York State Department of Labor occupational projection statistics, the food industry field is auspicious through the year 2026.

Since it’s relatively easy to enter into the field, you can already conclude that exist is equally easier. In fact, the food service industry, by its very nature, maintains a revolving door. The hours can be as flexible as the candidate prefers, the jobs  are often part-time until you gain some institutional knowledge and can demonstrate that you have an added value to offer. Depending on the philosophy of your employer, you might eat free at your work, or with some type of employee discounts. The best of all is that you can go home everyday with tips (cash) in your pocket. 

Can you build a wealth off this career? It depends. Unless you are doing something else on the side, on top, or beneath, it could be difficult to build wealth working in this field, although there are exceptions. If you are busy pursuing other important passions that are crucial to achieving your life goals,  and at the same time, able to pay your bills, there goes your wealth. Celebrate that and continue to dream bigger.

How to Search and Apply-

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  1. Unless you have some social cloud that connects you to the job, you’ll need a well -prepared resume.
  2. Be ready to search online (searching online means uploading your resume and cover letter into the site of the employer and/or various job boards out there, and offline means sending out word of mouth, networking, or simply canvassing by going to the food service location of your choice, and speaking to the managers there about your interest.
  3. Whenever you are showing up-either to drop off resume or for an interview, you should dress your part. You can’t go wrong with business casual.
  4. Pay attention to your hygiene -hair, nails, and other issues that you know might not work to your advantage.
  5. Don’t chew gum when you get there. Don’t wait until you get there before you take it out either.
  6. Shake hands with mildly firm handshake.
  7. Keep the door open with your smile. You are in the smiling zone.

Here is your key takeaways: if you are looking for job in this field, check to see if you are a people’s person, can work in a fast-paced environment, and can work/use flexible schedules. 

Are you currently working in the food and beverage industry? Do you think the assessment here fairly describes your experience? Share your comments below, or let’s connect on our social media pages. Visit often to access other thoughts and analyses here. Follow USAIG on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, Wanelo, Etsy, Fancy, Oufy, and We Heart It.

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