Getting a graduate job in hospitality and events

Dan Mason, Senior editor
January, 2017

In addition to a degree you'll generally need significant work experience to secure a graduate role in the hospitality and event management sector

For most jobs in this sector, a related degree isn't necessary and employers recruit graduates of any discipline, as long as they have some relevant work experience.

However, if you decide that hospitality is for you before applying to university, degrees in hospitality management often include a year in industry, which may give you the edge when it comes to applying for jobs. Meanwhile, there are a number of event management degrees, which may offer a similar advantage. Postgraduate courses in these areas are also available.

Degrees relating to business or marketing are seen as relevant by employers in this sector. Commercial awareness is sought throughout, and events management employers look for sales and marketing skills too. Language degrees or fluency in a second language are very useful for international hospitality chains.

Some, but not all, large employers in this sector may require a 2:1 degree and possibly a specific number of UCAS points.

This is a sector with clear progression routes and it is possible to work your way up to management from a lower qualification level. However, having a degree means you can apply directly for management positions and hospitality graduate schemes.

There are a number of Higher Apprenticeships in hospitality management, which have been developed in consultation with People 1st, the skills and workforce development charity for employers in this sector.

The 18-month apprenticeships run by HIT Training are open to those workers with significant industry experience at a supervisory or managerial level and who are not currently in full-time education.

For information on entry requirements and relevant qualifications, see job profiles.

What skills do employers want?

You will need:

  • a people-centred approach and customer service skills
  • the ability to work in a team
  • flexibility, a willingness to work unsocial hours and stamina
  • confidence, a persuasive approach and organisational skills
  • language skills.

Where can I get work experience?

Work experience is essential to entering the hospitality industry and this can be gained in a number of ways. For example, you could do a work placement as part of your degree, consider a summer internship or work part time while at university.

Many hospitality degrees include a work placement year and some large employers, including Marriott and Whitbread, also offer internships.

This is a sector where paid experience is readily available, particularly in the food and beverage industries. In fact, any work experience where you can develop your customer service skills, such as retail, will be beneficial.

In many cases, employers are keen to promote from within and if you appear suitable they may be willing to provide management opportunities.

Events management is a competitive area to enter and relevant work experience is vital. Sales or marketing experience is desirable and employers look for an entrepreneurial approach to event planning. You could get valuable experience at university helping to organise events for a club or society, volunteer to help at university open days or raise money for a charity.

The HAVE Scheme is delivered by the Institute of Hospitality and helps university students reflect on skills they have developed during work experience and how to demonstrate these to prospective employers.

To find work placements and internships in the hospitality and events management sector, search for work experience.

How do I find a graduate job in hospitality and events management?

Some of the larger companies in this sector offer graduate training schemes, including:

  • Compass Group
  • InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG)
  • Jurys Inn
  • Marriott
  • Mitchells & Butlers
  • Whitbread.

These can be in hospitality management/operations or head office functions such as finance, marketing, IT, HR and retail.

Some employers offer graduate schemes leading to an international career in hospitality, such as the IHG and Marriott. Others, such as Wetherspoons, offer head office careers that are not specifically aimed at graduates, so you may be competing with people with several years' experience.

As the vast majority of organisations in the sector are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), speculative applications can be effective. Companies also use local press and recruitment agencies to advertise vacancies.

For events management, the best way to find work is to use recruitment agencies, social media sites such as LinkedIn, or make speculative applications.

Although some organisations, like the Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG), have their own graduate scheme in theatre management and administration, there is typically no single way in and you may consider making a sideways step from a job in hospitality, PR, marketing or arts administration.

To find graduate jobs in the sector, search graduate jobs in hospitality and events management.

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