Career Advice: Learn from Hospitality Pros

You never know who might make a difference in your career. That’s why JWU regularly brings industry experts and leaders from business, culinary, hospitality and technology to campus to share their expertise directly with students.

Network, set goals and target companies you admire — hospitality leaders from General Mills, Chipotle, Sodexo, Marriott and Kimpton Hotels recently shared their keys to career success.

1) Look at the Big Picture
Moderator Gerry Fernandez '86, president of the Multicultural Foodservice & Hospitality Alliance (MFHA), kicked things off by emphasizing the importance of thinking big picture — and long term.


“You’ve got to look at your career as a picture window — don’t narrow your vision about what your career can be,” he said. “Where you start may not be where you end up. So be open and adaptable.

Fernandez originally trained as a chef, but has spent most of his career on the managerial side. “So what you think you might do today doesn’t mean that’s going to be your career.”

2) Find a Mentor
“Find a mentor who can guide you and help you think strategically,” said General Mills’ Lynn Karo.

“Mentors help you find your blind spots. You need someone who’s been down that road and will tell you when you’ve made a mistake,” noted Gerry.

3) All Experience is Good Experience
Sodexo’s Mike Grey encouraged students to build interpersonal and leadership skills: “Work in the community. Develop your talents. Do you volunteer? Do you have a mentee? Development is your responsibility, and it can really differentiate you.”

4) Target Companies You Love
“Don’t just blanket send your résumé,” says Adrienne Occhino, regional director of people and culture for boutique hotel and restaurant group Kimpton. “Research the organizations that you feel match your personal values, because those are the organizations you’re going to be most successful in.”

It’s a strategy that worked for Chipotle’s Mike Drapikowski '10: “I oversee 4 restaurants at Chipotle. The key to my success is being happy, and believing in the company — I want to go to work every single day.”

5) Set Concrete Goals
Fernandez recommends that every student write down a concrete list of his or her goals. “Until you write down your plans, they don’t become real. And never, ever, EVER stop believing in what you are striving for.”

Ready to go after your own goals? Find more career advice at JWU Careers.