COVID-19 had a huge impact on the hospitality industry that’s still felt today.
With a 2-year halt on travel plans, 62 million hospitality jobs worldwide were lost in 2020, and 44 million in 2021. While it seems that travel has returned to normal, in reality, the entire industry’s seen a paradigm shift. There are labour shortages, decreased business travel, and a stronger reliance on technology.
The instability of the industry over the last couple of years paired with the current state of the industry has caused many people working in hotels, restaurants, and other hospitality jobs, to reconsider their careers.
If you’re in this position and feeling like it’s time to take action, you’ve come to the right place. This article walks through why people are leaving the industry, jobs to consider and how to make a career switch from hospitality worker to working in tech.
Why people are leaving the hospitality industry
While the hospitality industry is accustomed to high turnover rates, it’s seen a record quit rate since the start of the pandemic.
- Hours: Hospitality jobs often require you to work late into the evenings, on weekends, and holidays. This means, missing out on events with family and friends. Plus, hours often vary, making it hard to develop a routine and make personal commitments.
- Emotional toll: This career takes an emotional toll on many fronts. Firstly, a customer-facing role means you take the brunt of people’s frustrations with a smile — also known as emotional labor. Secondly, labor shortages mean people are being stretched too thin in an already high-paced and stressful environment.
- Low pay: This month in the U.S., leisure and hospitality workers made $519/month, on average — which is the lowest average weekly pay in any industry. And especially with all the points just mentioned, something doesn’t feel right about that.
There’s no doubt that the above ingredients have led hospitality workers to resign without regret.
From hospitality to tech
If you’re reading this article, you’re likely intrigued by the idea of breaking into tech.
The tech industry has ample opportunity and is expected to see a much higher growth rate compared to other sectors. But in addition to the expected growth, there are a handful of reasons why tech could be the right fit for you, as you navigate a change from hospitality management, including:
- Opening doors: Tech isn’t limited to one industry. It’s disrupting every industry — education, healthcare, hospitality, you name it. So, by deciding to go into tech, you’re opening up your opportunities, rather than narrowing them.
- No need for a traditional career path: You don’t necessarily need a college degree for a lot of jobs in tech. Depending on the route you take, many tech roles care more about your technical skills, portfolio and ability to learn.
- There’s more flexibility: Gone are the days of being dictated by the 9-5 office life. Many tech companies are now remote-first, which means more flexibility in where and how you work.
Megan Woolfrey, UX/UI Designer at Thunkable and General Assembly alumni, decided to make the leap from hospitality to tech when the pandemic hit. She explains, ”I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do but working in tech was attractive to me, and I was looking for something more creative.”
Jobs in tech to consider
Once you’ve decided you want to pursue a career in tech, there are many route you can take.
Megan described why she chose a career in UX design, “I instantly enjoyed it and found some concepts similar to hospitality — like anticipating a guest/user’s needs, thinking about their goals, and understanding how to build a cohesive experience. Of course, there were a lot of skills and concepts I needed to learn to actually become a UX Designer but the concepts were familiar.”
Below are more details on making a career change like Megan’s, and a couple of other jobs to consider as a starting point.
What they do: User experience design, also known as UX design, involves making products more user-friendly. There’s a lot of thought put into the tools and tech we use every day to make it as easy to use as possible. It’s an important part of every tech company’s process to help them both attract and retain customers.
Transferable skills: Customer experience, listening, collaboration
Gaps to fill: Wireframing, research, prototyping, visual communication, etc.
What they do: Product managers facilitate the connection between the bigger business vision, what customers want and the technical development of the product. It’s a process-driven role that involves the ability to plan ahead, make decisions and communicate clearly.
Transferable skills: Time management, organization, collaboration, problem-solving
Gaps to fill: Prioritization, the ability to validate assumptions and track metrics, Agile methodology, etc.
What they do: Software engineers create computer systems to bring products to life. Through programming and coding, they build the tech we use every day behind the scenes. It’s heads-down work that requires focus and collaboration.
Transferable skills: problem-solving, collaboration, adaptability, time management
Gaps to fill: Full stack development, coding, programming, etc.
5 steps to begin your career transition into tech
We know what you’re thinking — making a career change is easier said than done. Not to worry, below we break down some actionable steps you can take to firstly, get a better understanding of your career goals and secondly, achieve those goals.
First things first, do your research. What areas of tech do you want to explore? Are there any webinars, YouTube videos or Reddit threads you can dive into to get a better understanding of what’s involved?
When we asked Megan for advice she’d give others trying to shift from hospitality to tech, she recommended, “Always do your research. Looking for free courses allowed me to try different disciplines without committing – I highly recommend this.[…] General Assembly often has free, live intro courses that you can sign up for. Find something you genuinely enjoy doing[…]”
- Do a skills audit
A personalized skills audit involves taking stock of your current skills — both soft and hard— writing them all down, and ranking them on a scale from 1-10. Don’t only think about what skills you’re good at. Consider what you enjoy doing.
From there, identify the gaps you need to fill to pursue the career you’re interested in, and make a plan for how you’ll fill those gaps. A timeline always helps to keep you accountable.
If you need somewhere to start, try this free skills audit template.
- Network, network, network
Networking is such a valuable step in changing careers.
Talking to people who are working in jobs that interest you gives you more first-hand accounts of what’s actually involved in different career paths, and the most important qualities and skills needed. Plus, when it comes time to look for a job, these connections may be able to lend a hand.
It can feel awkward to reach out to people you dont know. But here’s a secret: people like to help. Especially if they’ve been in a similar position to you.
- Find a course that works for you
Okay, so you’ve done your research, identified knowledge/skill gaps, and spoken to ask as many people as possible— now it’s time to build on your skills and add more relevant education/experience to your resume. Often times, that means taking a relevant course.
Megan shares some factors to consider when looking for a course that works for you:
“Do you want to commit to a few courses for $200 and do them in your own time, or make a larger financial commitment and have an immersive learning experience? While it was a scary decision at the time, I am overall grateful that I chose an immersive learning experience because it came with a lot of support and resources that helped me find a job. The ROI has been incredible.”
Whether you prefer online courses, in-person, part-time, or more intensive full time courses — you’ll surely be able to find an option that suits you.
- Don’t do it alone
Lastly, as with any big change, it’s helpful to have the support of your loved ones — family, friends, people you meet through networking, etc.
Telling people you’re making a change and might need their support is scary because it’s vulnerable and holds you accountable. But you know what’s scarier? Doing it alone. Reach out to those around you and lean on them to be your support system as you navigate this change.
Onwards and upwards
Making a career change is hard — especially when you’re forging a path in an entirely new industry. But here’s what to remember: You’ve already developed valuable skills that will help you shine in a tech role. The next steps are figuring out what job best suits both your skills and interests, what gaps you need to fill and how you’ll fill those gaps.
With a step-by-step plan, you’ll be able to approach your new career path in tech strategically and confidently.
Download the ebook “career changers guide to doing something different” to start your career change journey.