The Face of Our Future
My appointment book on occasion contains visits to undergraduate and secondary schools to talk to students about careers in the hospitality and tourism industry. As perhaps every educator who stands before students on a daily basis, I found I could clearly divide the class into three categories—those students who know EXACTLY what they want to do when they get out of school: those students who want some industry-related career but don’t exactly know what that means or how to go about it and those students who are clearly only sitting in the classroom for the course credit.
It reminded me of the “student types theory” I learned long ago in a presentation class about the three basic types of students—the learners, the vacationers, and the prisoners. Some students as young as middle school clearly know not only what they want to do but also have some sense of how they are going to achieve it, while other students have only a vague idea and no set path. I saw college sophomores who had less clarity and direction about their career choices than some of the secondary school students I met. I wondered, “How does that happen?”
In search of an answer, I began a series of unscientific questions to find the difference. Almost every student I spoke with who had clarity and direction in their hospitality career choice was blessed with a guidance counselor, student advisor, teacher or faculty member who had taken the time and initiative to help them get information and knowledge about their choice. My own son—long since graduated and in the workforce—was blessed with teachers and guidance counselors who encouraged him to think about not only what he was interested in, but also what fields and types of employment his personality would “match.” In 8th grade, he had a teacher who gave her students a career investigation assignment and had them take the Myers-Briggs personality style test to better help them refine their career choices.
Students as young as elementary and middle school are beginning to think about what careers they want. Many are thinking about careers in hospitality and tourism. Six years ago during a visit from my 12-year-old niece, she expressed interest in the culinary arts and wanted as much information as she can could get to help her find her place in the industry. She stayed committed to this dream, is set to graduate from high school this year and will be attending the Culinary Institute of America this coming fall.
We have a responsibility to help students figure it all out and to give them advice and direction—to find ways to turn the classroom “prisoners” into “learners.” The challenge for parents and educators and student advisors is to find ways to keep the “learners” excited about their career choices and to help the “vacationers” and the “prisoners” find their reasons for being there. It’s no small feat, but these fresh young faces are the future of our industry.