SPC Hospitality & Tourism Expo Showcases Industry’s Diversity, Positivity

Recruiter speaking to a student at the Hospitality & Tourism Expo

More than 20 employers met with students at the Hospitality and Tourism Expo held Feb. 20 at the St. Petersburg College Seminole Campus. In offering tips, employers shared some of the traits and characteristics they look for among prospective hires.

So, What are Employers Looking for?

“Employers are always looking for those smart and hardworking people,” explained Jacqueline Meyer, Training and Development Coordinator for Levy Restaurants. “But what I love about Levy is that they also focus on you as a person.”

Jacqueline Meyer was a recent Stetson University graduate who found herself with Levy Restaurants after graduation. A Psychology and Public Health major, Meyer grew to love the idea of hospitality after learning more about the company’s culture.  “They genuinely hire nice people. That is something they are always looking for.”

Levy Restaurants representatives talk with students at the Hospitality and Tourism Expo
Levy Restaurants representatives discussing career opportunities with an #SPCollege student.

But being kind isn’t everything – when asked about the most important trait in hiring, Meyer also emphasized positivity. “Positivity and a good attitude are a huge part of it. If you are positive, I feel like more people are drawn to you, and you may have a better opportunity to learn more about the field you’re interested in because more people are willing to teach you.”

Is a Positive Outlook All you Need?

No, but it is a golden standard. Keynote Speaker Jim Burns, Vice President and Managing Director of Grande Lakes Orlando, shared some insight on the industry today.

“Hospitality represents diversity,” said Burns, “there are currently more women and minorities within the industry’s leadership than any other industry in the United States.”

Due to the nature of the service industry, many employees are multilingual. Approximately a third have bachelor’s degrees, and many are often strong in technical writing, critique, and linguistics. These strengths work alongside defining characteristics shared by every employee:

“Energy and character are some of the most important considerations while building a relationship as an employer,” he explained. Employees’ positivism, sensibility, and pride enrich the warmth found within the Hospitality and Tourism industry.

This might seem like a lot, so to make the journey a little less daunting, Burns shared five “words of wisdom” for aspiring Hospitality and Tourism students to follow:

  • Be great at the job you’re doing.
  • Build your network. Relationships trump resumes.
  • Take risks. You will never be fully ready for the job you take.
  • Do more! Always be curious and willing to expand your role and learn.
  • Make your boss look good! Go above and beyond. Don’t just do the obvious!
Jim Burns Speaking at Seminole Campus for Hospitality and Tourism
“Energy and character are some of the most important considerations while building a relationship as an employer,” explains Jim Burns, Vice President and Managing Director of Grande Lakes Orlando and Keynote Speaker.
Hospitality and Tourism Program at SPC

Interested in a service-oriented career? SPC offers a Hospitality and Tourism Scholarship Program made possible by the Pinellas County Hotel and Motel Association. It covers the tuition of your first Hospitality course. Learn more here.

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