Hotels occasionally open their doors to high school students, college students and other individuals interested in pursuing careers in the hospitality industry for a day of job shadowing. The term “job shadowing” refers to spending time with an individual in order to gain insight into her responsibilities at work. Job shadowing a hotel owner can be an effective way to learn how she interfaces with a large hotel staff, investors, the media and hotel guests in order to run a successful business.
When you are invited to job shadow a hotel owner, treat the occasion with the same professionalism and formality as a job interview. Arrive appropriately groomed, wearing professional clothing. Punctuality and respectfulness will be noted, so arrive on time and engage with the hotel owner with a positive attitude, enthusiasm and strong communication skills.
Job shadowing a hotel owner is much more involved than silently following him around throughout the day. Use the opportunity to network by engaging in conversation, asking questions and inquiring into mentoring possibilities. Learn the names of other hotel management employees as they cross paths with the hotel owner during your time together, making mental notes about whom to follow up with later via email, telephone call or personal note. Professional, respectful networking might help you land an internship or entry-level position within the hotel while still in school.
Although you will want to demonstrate communication skills and interest by asking thoughtful and relevant questions, keep in mind that your guide will likely be carrying out important tasks while guiding you throughout the day. When he meets with other managers and team players, refrain from interrupting to ask questions or seek clarification. Save those questions for moments of relative downtime, such as riding the elevator or walking down a hallway.
Job shadowing opportunities sometimes link individuals with lower-level management or department heads, such as front desk managers, food service managers or housekeeping managers. If you have the chance to spend time with the hotel owner, keep basic logistical questions to a minimum since others might be able to readily answer them. Impress the hotel owner by asking big-picture questions, such as how the role of hospitality enhances personal or family relationships or how hotels successfully achieve customer satisfaction in a more globalized economy and culture. A hotel owner’s bird’s-eye view and possible long-term perspective will provide deeper insight and business acumen.