Careers in Hospitality and Tourism – Part 1

by Egi Gaisie

This subject is very close to my heart, perhaps because I started my career in the hospitality industry from the bottom rank as a trainee at the front desk of a hotel. I’ve also worked in housekeeping as a ‘room maid/room attendant’, and held diverse positions in food service and the food production departments at different types of hotels, kitchens, and food service counters in standalone restaurants and school cafeterias. These were all before and during my formal education related to the hospitality industry. After graduation and acquiring some good work experiences, I’ve managed hotels and offered consultancy services, and I must confess, I’ve found myself in what sometimes seemed like a ‘wild goose chase’ for personnel to fill vacancies in hotels!

Our industry is huge. Bouncing back to blogging, I intend to spend the whole year focusing on careers and career-related matters, with an article every fortnight, God willing. First, let’s ‘talk’ about our general attitudes to careers.

What are your thoughts on careers?

If you are a parent, you’ll have legitimate concerns about what occupational responsibilities your children grow into, but how much influence should you exert on the choices they make as young adults? After all, haven’t you invested so much in them? Perhaps you may not be looking at them from that angle…you just want to pat yourself on the back for doing a good job and/or, you want some of their occupational success stories to rub off on you when the time comes!

Do the career choices of your wards or children matter to you? Did you only think of their careers when they turned into young adults struggling to find their career paths?

My father of blessed memory, having ‘the old school’ Presbyterian background, wanted lawyers, doctors and teachers in his ‘nest of seven’ children. I was designated to be one of the two teachers he dreamed of having.

If you are a young graduate and already aware of your career choice, I bet you will be well-focused on pursuing it.

However, there are many who don’t know what they want to do as a career and, therefore, would take anything that come their way, allowing the system in which they find themselves to carry them along! There are many more in between the above two scenarios who have several career dreams…one time it’s to be a police, a pilot, then a fashion designer, an air hostess, and the list goes on!

Did you identify yourself with the last category above? I do, but never aligned to my father’s designation of me becoming a trained teacher! To keep me occupied after not making the qualifications I needed into my choice university, I got the opportunity to be placed at the front desk of a 160-room hotel, Continental Hotel (which became Golden Tulip and is currently Lancaster Hotel, Accra). This began the story of developing a career in the hospitality industry, and I loved it!

 I’m reminded of a young lady I recently met. I’ll call her Brenda.

Brenda has just completed JHS and according to her, her results were poor. However, I was particularly impressed at her spoken English.  Apparently, she loves reading and she was able to tell me the morale of the latest storybook she had read about 2 weeks before I met her. When I asked what her career goal is, she said she wanted to become a journalist!  I was tempted to snatch her into thinking ‘a hospitality career’!

She lives with her parents and siblings at Mampong but had accompanied her elder brother (who was going to be sawing wood for me) to Accra. I couldn’t reconcile what help Brenda, with a smallish physical structure, would be giving her brother who works with chainsaws. At the end of the day, I couldn’t help but give her a tip. When I asked what she would do with the money, she said she would save it. I further asked if she had a bank account, and she answered in the positive.

My thoughts went to several students with poor grades and the fear of them dropping out of high school. I’ve been asking myself questions:

‘Is this the beginning of life’s frustrations for them? What do they know about careers? If they have fixed career ambitions like Brenda, what career counseling is available to them?’

In our educational system, some schools organize ‘career day’. Is it just for fun?

I’m not in a position to establish the ratio of students who get their choice subjects when they get admission to universities. Many are ‘given’ courses. Should they consider the ‘given courses’ as ‘lemons’ to make ‘lemonade’ out of them?  How much career counseling is carried out in our secondary schools? At the universities, the counselor : student ratio, I hear is embarrassing, and students really don’t take the initiative to get support from the few counselors they have.

I ran a school once, Career Development Institute. It was a hotel-oriented educational institution. There, I saw the deep influence of some parents on their adult ‘children’ who had absolutely no interest in the hospitality industry. What do our youth really think of when it comes to choosing careers these days?

Look out for the continuation of this article.

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Dzidzor Mensah Kplorlanyuie January 12, 2024 - 2:05 pm

Very educative piece

Egi Gaisie January 14, 2024 - 7:19 pm

Thank you Dzidzor. Look out for the next piece. In our own little way, how can we help the youth in their career search?


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