Breaking into a new industry is a challenge. But it’s a challenge you can meet if you know where to begin. In hospitality, there are many established entry points where anyone with determination and a solid work ethic can get started. Whether you’re interested in restaurants, hotels, or tourism, here are some of the entry-level positions you can pursue.
Entry-Level Restaurant Roles
Different restaurants have various experience level requirements for their staff. And the more high-end the restaurant, the more experience they will likely require. Still, there are thousands of food service establishments that will welcome entry-level employees into these roles.
The host is responsible for answering phones, seating guests, keeping track of reservations, and managing the waitlist. This role is often held by the least experienced employees, but it is a vital job for the smooth operation of the restaurant.
Busser or Food Runner
The food runner brings dishes out to the guests, while the busser clears tables after the guests are gone. Not every restaurant has these roles, instead of asking the servers and hosts to cover these responsibilities. But they can be a useful entry point on one’s path to becoming a server or bartender.
Some restaurants actually prefer to hire entry-level servers with no experience. This gives the restaurant the chance to train the employee from the “ground up,” with no preconceived notions or bad habits they may have picked up at other restaurants. Chain restaurants in particular often have great training programs to start their servers off on the right foot.
If you’re looking for kitchen work, starting out as a dishwasher can help you get there. This role is less skilled but crucially important to each shift. With no clean plates, the entire operation falls apart! Famous chefs Anthony Bourdain, Mario Batali, and Thomas Keller all started out as dishwashers.
Before earning their place on the line, many cooks start out in prep. Prep cooks do the pre-processing work that keeps the shift running. They may chop veggies, pre-portion proteins, make sauces, soups, and dressings, and much more. This can be the first stop on your path to becoming a line cook, and eventually, a supervisor or sous chef.
Entry-Level Hotel Roles
Hotels have a small army of housekeepers, porters, front desk staff, back-office staff, and event staff that keeps them running smoothly. With one of these entry-level positions, you can start building your hotel industry resume.
The hotel housekeeping staff is responsible for cleaning and “re-setting” rooms for new guests. This entry-level hospitality job can help get your foot in the door of any hotel—even the most high-end hotel in your area.
A hotel porter assists with check-in and check-out by carrying bags between the lobby and guest room. They also answer questions about the hotel amenities and facilities. As a customer-facing position, this could be a good opportunity to prove your excellent customer service skills in an entry-level role.
Hotel Reservation Agent
A hotel reservation agent takes calls and assists customers with their bookings. These positions are usually over the phone rather than in person, so there may be an opportunity to work remotely.
Front Desk Agent
Some hotels hire entry-level front desk agents, while others prefer that agents have some previous hotel experience. The front desk agent will help guests with check-in and check-out, answer questions, and be the general face of the hotel. This role can make or break a guest experience, so it’s an important one!
More Entry-Level Hospitality Roles
Hospitality also includes the event and tourism industries, which have their own opportunities for entry-level work.
Catering or Event Staff
Catering companies and event venues often have their own teams of servers and personnel. They may help set up tables and chairs, layout buffets, provide tableside service, and do many other tasks. Working under a catering or events manager, these staffers can get started with little-to-no experience.
Sales or Booking Agent
Sales and booking agents work for travel agencies, event venues, event planning companies, and more to fill their calendars with guest reservations and private parties. These jobs require a “go-getter” attitude, as it will be up to you to go out and find clients. But these positions often pay commissions, so there can be good earning potential.
Breaking into tourism may require boots on the ground—literally. A tour guide is in the thick of things, leading visitors through the best your city has to offer. This kind of work will teach excellent customer service skills that you can apply to your future hospitality career.