4 Reasons Hospitality Jobs In Your 20s Is The Best Way To Travel
The world is in turmoil.
Since the Global Financial Crisis, we've slowly started to recover as a global economy, but there's still a way to go.
Jobs are finally being created, but for many people in my age bracket (the Millennials), it still seems to be a daunting task to join the workforce.
Many of us did what our parents and our teachers told us to do and got our degrees, only to find out post-graduation, we were either sh*t out of luck or had to do something completely unrelated to our field.
That's where I was four years ago after I received my BS degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Central Florida.
Upon graduation, I actually had quite a few opportunities to begin a career in my field, but my problem was broadcast news no longer interested me.
Unfortunately, it took me five years and a bit of student loan debt to figure that out, but I ultimately realized I had to find something else that was right for me.
I had officially become an "in-betweener." In the meantime, I was working full-time at a booming bar and within the next two years, I moved up to a management role.
Like so many of my friends who were struggling to figure out their next steps in life, I depended on hospitality to keep me afloat while I figured out exactly what I wanted to do with my life.
It wasn't until I finally quit that job, fearful that hospitality would become my career, and I started to travel that I realized something: While hospitality may not be what I, or many of my Millennial peers want to do with the rest of our lives, it does offer us a unique opportunity while we figure that out.
I can get a job anywhere in the world, and that's not an overstatement.
In a world with countless doctors, lawyers and accountants who are out of work, I have the ability to move to any country in the world and get work quickly.
Now, bartending may not be the most glamorous work in the world, but it pays the bills. Sometimes, it can be quite lucrative for a 20-something finding his or her way.
What I quickly realized after moving abroad was my skills are always in demand because people always want to eat and drink and I should've done this years ago!
Because of what I've learned, I wanted to spread the word and share some helpful tips with those who may be in a similar position to where I was last year.
If you're just biding your time at a bar or restaurant, why not do it overseas?
Do the same thing you'd be doing anyway, but do it somewhere exotic and while you figure out what you want to do with your life, experience some of what the world has to offer.
With that in mind, I present to you four reasons to move overseas if you're a hospitality in-betweener:
1. While we may lack "real job" skills, we have something that's always in demand.
When you start to travel, you meet a lot of amazing people and hear a lot of amazing stories that brought people to a particular point in their lives.
I've met countless people while traveling who have awesome stories about quitting six-figure salaries to travel the world and find themselves.
But, what many of these people found is that it's pretty hard for them to find work when traveling.
Unless you apply for overseas jobs in advance and gain a multi-year visa ahead of time, most companies in your professional field won't give you the time of day.
It doesn't matter how qualified you are; if you only have six months left on your visa and you plan on traveling after it's up, it will be pretty hard to find a job at an accounting firm.
The vast majority of work for travelers is hospitality-based because those of us with experience take minimal training and Westerners are known for their superior hospitality work ethic (mostly because we work for tips).
That means if you've spent a couple of years in hospitality, even at the most basic level, you have an advantage over probably 70 percent of the rest of the travelers you'll meet.
It's not often you can go into an interview with a brain surgeon as your main competition and walk out on the winning end of said interview.
Yes, Dr. Oz can remove a brain tumor, but I can make 10 cocktails in five minutes, I know the difference between whiskey, bourbon and scotch, and I can tell you how much four Jägerbombs, three Coronas and a mojito costs, faster than the POS can.
2. Even if you've only worked for a few months, you're still "overqualified."
Hospitality overseas is a joke. In any place I've gone to eat or drink, the only time you can expect decent service is when you're being served by a Westerner.
It's not totally the fault of the foreign countries, it's just a difference in culture.
In Italy, it's perfectly common to have dinners that last four hours, but in the US, we expect five drinks and three courses in 59 minutes or less.
Because of this, Westerners pay so much more attention to detail and have a sense of urgency that workers from many parts of the world simply don't.
This is also why so many places are desperate to hire Americans, Canadians or Brits, or basically anyone who knows what it means to work for tips.
Tourists, as we know from waiting tables back home, are impatient and fussy, and it takes a certain level of experience dealing with customer bullsh*t to make an establishment successful.
Obviously, the more experience you have, the more qualified you are, but in non-English-speaking countries, if English is your first language, you already are more qualified than 90 percent of applicants.
I worked in an extremely busy restaurant/bar in Melbourne, basically a 1,500-square-foot bar and patio that, on the weekends, did well over $100,000 in business.
The number of applicants we turned away who were extremely qualified, but spoke broken
English, in favor of people who had little to no experience but who did speak English was astounding.
It simply makes business sense in a busy environment to have people who can actually understand and convey orders.
3. If you're good at what you do, you'll never be out of work.
Now, if you meet the prerequisites of being English speaking and having at least minimal hospitality experience, you should have no problem getting a job.
However, during the summer months in places like Australia, it's still extremely competitive.
This is why if you are exceptional at what you do, and if you're spinning your wheels back home, you might as well bring your talents overseas.
I'm an incredible bartender, probably the best I know (at least in my own mind), and I can tell you in an industry that requires you to be cocky to survive, those of us who know we have the skills need not wait for anything.
Excluding the time I have taken off for traveling and holidays, while traveling Australia, I've been unemployed for a total of zero days. (That's not entirely true, I was unemployed for about 20 hours when I arrived in Perth at 9 pm on a Wednesday night.)
I had a job by 5 pm the day after I arrived. The reason for this is that bars overseas (at least in Australia) are very different than their Western counterparts.
In the states, if you get a job (even at a sh*tty chain restaurant), you have to go through a series of training steps before you even step foot on the floor.
This includes but is not limited to menu tests, cocktail and drink tests, instructional videos, mounds of paperwork and the like.
In Australia, this couldn't be further from how things work. Here, if you come in and pass the résumé and eyeball test from management, you will have your first trial shift on the next busiest day available (usually a Friday or Saturday night).
There is no intro to the menu, no cocktail ingredients quiz and, in my experience, no familiarization with the management system until the day of said shift.
They simply throw you in, let you get your ass kicked and see if you sink or swim; it's as simple as that.
If you are good at what you do, specifically as a bartender, this is the ideal situation to prove what you're made of.
You're allowed to ask silly questions because they know you don't know anything. What matters is seeing how much you can retain and how you deal with the pressure.
If you have what it takes, all you need is that trial shift to know you've secured a job. If not, keep on looking.
4. If you're doing it anyway, you might as well let it fund an adventure.
I have so many friends in hospitality back home who have told me they're jealous that I was able to leave. The truth is, we all have the ability and means to do it, it's just a matter of what you're willing to sacrifice to make it happen.
Hospitality is a cash business, filled with young people who love to drink and party and have the cash to do it. We are not known as being the most financially "stable" group, and for good reason.
Anyone who's been in hospitality long enough has had more than a few mornings of waking up to cringe at a sad bank statement and empty wallet.
But, what we also have, almost without fail throughout the whole industry, is a group of extremely optimistic, fun-loving people, who don't exactly know what they want in life.
If you're in your 20s, trying to find yourself and working in hospitality, you are wasting your time if you are not doing so overseas.
This isn't aimed at people who are bartending to pay for night school, or got laid off and are supporting a family.
This is for a very specific, but very large group of individuals who are basically biding their time.
We know we want more out of life, but the money is good, the booze is cheap and when I go out on my one Friday off per month, I'm the king of the city.
But, at the end of the day, us, those people, that group, we all have the same fear. It's that one day, we'll wake up, be 35 and still working at Bennigan's (wearing f*cking 10 pieces of flair) because while we were doing this part time, we got complacent.
We've all seen it, and as someone who's been in hospitality for the better part of a decade, I can tell you it's still a very real fear.
But, I saved up and secluded myself from the parties and the late-night drinking (most of the time), for the better part of six months.
I bought a ticket, packed my bags and came overseas. The thing I was most nervous about was, "Can I make money, can I support myself?" I'm here to tell you the answer is yes — yes you can, and yes you will.
The best part of this whole thing is now I have figured out what I want to do. It took me five years of college and four years in a corporate bar with a huge ceiling to realize what I've actually wanted to do all along.
I've decided I want to be a writer (another dead-end career choice, I know), but in traveling and using my hospitality background to see the world, I've discovered what makes me happy.
The truth is, that never would've happened back home, and the same probably goes for you.
So I implore you, rather than spin your wheels and live in your parents' basement (no shame I did it for six months), save up some money, buy a ticket and go figure out what you want to do with your life.
In the meantime, sling some drinks, meet some amazing people, have some awesome adventures and most importantly, get the hell out of your hometown.