You’ve made it. After months of filling out application forms, applying for student visas, packing your bags, and travelling to Switzerland, you have finally arrived on campus where your journey has only just begun. In the initial frenzy of understanding your class schedule and finding your way around, a calm and steady presence that will accompany you throughout your time at our school makes themselves known. Meet your career coach, your go-to person for your career development.
Choosing to study hospitality management in a top-ranking Swiss school is an important step in defining your future. Not only will you benefit from the academic knowledge and industry expertise of our faculty, but you will also gain real-world professional skills through your internships and the numerous opportunities on campus to put the theory into practice. This is part of the DNA of Swiss Hotel Management School. In the midst of all of this learning however, it’s not always easy to figure out what you want to do after you graduate.
That’s where career coaches step in. Present on each campus, they are your go-to person in creating a roadmap for your career and equipping you to succeed at finding the job you want.
“We want to help you find your purpose and light that spark to get you started on your journey towards a career,” explains Robert Saltz, Head of Career Services at Swiss Hotel Management School. “We serve as guides and mentors along the way to help push you in the right direction. We are essentially living, breathing toolkits who are there to equip you with the skills you need to succeed as a student, throughout your internships, and after you graduate.
We want to help you find your purpose and light that spark to get you started on your journey towards a career.
“As a coach, my role is to help you find the answers to your questions from within yourself. I do that by asking a lot of questions: What do you like? What do people say you are good at? Have you ever asked yourself those questions? Let’s talk about it. When you aren’t at school, what do you like to do? Do you like to work with your hands, can you stand on your feet for an extended period of time?”
All these questions ultimately serve the purpose of helping you define who you are, what you want to do, and how you will get there. Career coaching boils down to you being able to answer the question, “What do you think you should do?” Robert is passionate about helping people harness their inner passions in order to be able to define what they want their future to look like. Hear him talk about how to do this in an inspiring TED Talk he gave in 2018.
“By the end of your fourth week on campus, we sit down to discuss what your objectives are and start planning. It’s important to recognize that, though you may have hopes and dreams down the road, you have to start somewhere”, explains Robert. As a career coach, he is there to help students adjust their expectations.
Make the most of the academic experience that you are acquiring on campus, because it translates into life experience and ultimately can be applied to the workforce.
“If you apply to a position with absolutely no experience, how do you expect to get hired? As a career coach, my biggest responsibility is to help you manage expectations and think through all the ways you could gain experience for that specific role.
I always tell students to go for it, but at the same time, they need to be prepared. Make the most of the academic experience that you are acquiring on campus, because it translates into life experience and ultimately can be applied to the workforce.
“It’s also crucial to align your expectations with what the market is looking for. I used to be on the other side of the recruitment process when I worked in the hotel industry (Robert has extensive experience heading up service quality and training at many prestigious venues, including the W Paris Opéra and the W Verbier). I have seen the same CV and heard the same elevator pitch over and over again. That’s why I encourage students to set themselves apart: what is that one thing that you want that recruiter to know? how do you want to stand out? As a career coach, I help students refine how they pitch themselves.
“Because of AI and applicant tracking systems, it’s harder than ever now to get through the first cut of a job application. You have to beat the algorithm. We give students the tools to be able to land a face-to-face interview: using key words in your CV, matching the job title in the advertisement to what you have in your CV, focusing on one job and not three, etc.
Now more than ever, if you are not networking, you are not working.
“In a world where exchanges happen increasingly take place online, I am constantly reminding students about the importance of face-to-face networking.”
The pandemic hasn’t changed this, on the contrary. Robert is adamant, “All the vital signs for hospitality are in our favor, they aren’t filing positions fast enough. Now more than ever, if you are not networking, you are not working.”
Career coaches are also uniquely positioned to help you navigate careers in hospitality as they have a have an excellent understanding of the variety of positions available in the industry.
“Career mapping is a great way to show the typical employee development and progression paths by function (F&B, housekeeping, finance, front of house, etc.),” explains Robert. On top of this, career coaches regularly invite companies to campus for them to introduce themselves to students and share about their mission and staffing needs. In this way, you have a wealth of knowledge at your disposal to make informed choices about what career you might like to pursue.
However, Robert underlines the importance of not just finding the right job but finding the right company. “You need to find the right fit for you and be able to discern how instrumental it will be for your professional development. When your values and mission are aligned with those of the company you are working for, the more motivated you will be and the more likely you will grow and develop in the process.”
This doesn’t mean that you need to have this all figured out before you graduate. The time you spend as a student at Swiss Hotel Management School is a unique window of opportunity to find out more about yourself, explore a multitude of career paths, and learn through trial and error.
It’s ok to fall, as long as you fall on your face because it means you are falling forward.
“Every experience is a learning experience even if it is a bad experience”, Robert shares. “It’s ok to fall, as long as you fall on your face because it means you are falling forward.”
What makes this time of your life even more unique is that you aren’t alone in navigating it: your career coach is there rooting for you every step of the way and cheering you on when you get that job offer. That experience is priceless.