There are an increasing number of attractive opportunities within hospitality, with the British Hospitality Association predicting that the industry will provide at least 3.31 million jobs by 2020.
The hospitality and tourism industry is broad and opportunities in the sector can take you anywhere in the world - from working abroad in accommodation management, to organising sports or leisure events, to establishing your own business or working within heritage - the roles are incredibly varied.
Overall, there is a great deal on offer to graduates both in the UK and abroad - whatever area appeals to you, there are plenty of jobs to choose from and numerous management opportunities available.
Where do I start?
Within the hospitality and tourism sector you could be looking at a wide range of occupations. Prospects has a useful list of job profiles each containing relevant information about key responsibilities, skill requirements, starting salaries, entry requirements and career prospects with links to major employers and current graduate vacancies.
Job roles in this sector include (but are not restricted to):
- Accommodation manager
- Catering manager
- Conference centre manager
- Event organiser
- Exhibition designer
- Fast food restaurant manager
- Holiday representative
- Hotel manager
- Marketing executive
- Public house manager
- Restaurant manager
- Travel agency manager
- Tour manager
- Tourism officer
- Tourist information centre manager
As part of your job-hunting strategy you will need to keep up to date on developments in this sector and keep track of any vacancies that are coming up. Below are some key resources to help you research opportunities available. The knowledge gained through your research may help you to target your applications and will help when preparing for interviews.
- UK Hospitality Association - A private sector forum looking at policies and strategies in the industry to shape the future of hospitality and tourism. The BHA promotes the interests of operators, brands and owners across hotels, restaurants and food service, clubs and visitor attractions.
- People 1st - A leading skills and workforce development charity for employers in the hospitality, tourism, leisure, travel and passenger transport industries. The site includes information on research and policy, recruitment services and blogs, campaigns and events.
- Tourism Management Institute - An organisation which supports destination management professionals throughout their career – from students setting out, through to established practitioners. Members include destination management organisations, national tourist organisations, visitor attractions, consultancies and local government.
- The Caterer - Check into Hospitality - a comprehensive career guide to the varied roles available in hotels, restaurants, food service, pubs and bars. With comments from students, apprentices and young managers, the guide illustrates how it’s possible to forge a rewarding and exciting career in hospitality.
If you’re considering a career in hospitality or in tourism, securing work experience is a must. Both industries are centred around the consumer, so you will need to show you know how to deal with customers. You will need to be able to think on your feet, work effectively as part of a team and demonstrate a real commitment to working in the sector.
You can develop these skills and gain evidence of your experience for future employers in a number of different ways. You could look for a formal internship or year in industry, take on a part-time job in a local restaurant or at an attraction, complete a short work experience placement with a large chain or organisation or volunteer with community groups at events.
Overall, you will want to aim for work experience that closely matches your skills and interests. An additional bonus to this area of work is the range of different working patterns – making it easier to combine part time work or work experience with your commitment to your studies.
An internship is usually a work experience opportunity that is offered for a fixed period or a limited amount of time. Internships tend to be undertaken by students and graduates who are looking to gain more relevant/industry specific skills and experience in their particular field.
These opportunities can be paid for a period of between one to four months and typically take place over the summer, with closing dates generally around January to March, but some can be earlier.
Finding placement and internship opportunities
The websites below provide further information about placement and internship opportunities across hospitality and tourism:
- MyCareer - the Careers and Employability Service's online jobs board can be used to search for internships, work experience and summer opportunities across sectors and locations.
- RateMyPlacement – offers information on leisure, travel and tourism work experience opportunities, including internships and placements.
- TARGETjobs - provides a specific section on different career sectors, with the ability to search for placement and internship opportunities in hospitality, leisure and travel.
- Prospects – has its own search tool for work experience opportunities across sectors, including hospitality and events management and leisure, sport and tourism.
- Milkround - provides a search tool for internships, placements and part-time jobs in Hospitality and Tourism.
Many university students will secure part-time jobs in the hospitality or travel industry and being based in Portsmouth, a city rich in naval history, an international visitor destination and a waterfront location offers brilliant scope for securing a relevant part-time role.
Some examples of typical part-time or holiday jobs that will provide you with experience of working in hospitality, tourism and leisure include:
- Accommodation and catering: restaurants, cafés, fast-food outlets, pubs, hotels
- Tourism, travel and transport: travel agents, tourism resorts and attractions, motorway service stations
- Leisure and visitor attractions: theme parks, leisure centres, cinemas and nightclubs
- Heritage and the countryside: historic houses, countryside recreation and conservation areas
- Sport and fitness: sporting venues, sport and fitness centres
Searching for part-time jobs
The following websites are resources to support you in your search for employment opportunities in the Portsmouth area:
- MyCareer - the Careers and Employability Service's online jobs board can be used to search for part-time work in the local and surrounding area. Update your profile to receive targeted email alerts.
- Portsmouth City Council - the official site of the City Council who recruit for roles across Portsmouth Museums & Visitor Services.
- Portsmouth Historic Dockyard - the official site of the Historic Dockyard with a range of attractions and food outlets recruiting throughout the year.
- Indeed - provides a search tool for work across sectors.
- Reed - offers a job search tool, careers, employment and recruitment information.
Getting involved in volunteering gives you the opportunity to develop employability skills and experience a variety of working environments to assist you in discovering the right career path for you. It provides the chance to network, meet new friends and boost your confidence.
Volunteering also enables you to gain practical experience and working examples to support your graduate applications. If you choose to commit a significant amount of time and impress the organisation during your volunteering, they may also provide you with a professional reference.
Volunteer to get practical experience
Approaching local organisations, charities or community groups who would benefit from your skills is one way of gaining that all-important experience. The competencies developed will be invaluable and enhance any speculative applications you make.
The Careers and Employability Service offers current students and graduates access to a Virtual Volunteering Bank, which provides local opportunities to undertake alongside your studies. Similarly, you can access these opportunities through the paper-based bank located in the Careers and Employability Centre.
Examples of hospitality-related / tourism-related support roles that the Volunteering Team have previously advertised and recruited for include:
- Visitor Experience Volunteer with the Royal Navy Submarine Museum - assisting the Visitor Experience team in ensuring visitor satisfaction by meeting and greeting members of the public as they come into the museum and answering basic questions about the museum’s collection.
- Carer’s Café Volunteer with Portsmouth Carers Centre - offering a high level of customer service through meeting and greeting visitors, serving foods and drinks and ensuring that the café is a safe, presentable and welcoming environment.
- Events & PR Coordinator Volunteer with Sue Ryder Care - engaging in the organisation and delivery of fundraising events, volunteer drives and stock generation. Working as a liaison between and helping to build community contracts.
- Meal Evening Support Volunteer with FoodCycle Portsmouth - coordinating and serving two community meals each week as part of a team of volunteers working to tackle food waste, food poverty and social isolation.
If you have any questions regarding the volunteering opportunities available to you in Portsmouth then please contact the Volunteering Team on email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tips for success when looking for experience
With a wide variety of potential hospitality or tourism-related opportunities, the first challenge may be to narrow down your search and identify the options that best fit with your career goals. You may already have a clear idea of the type of organisation and position you would like to apply to, but if not, here are some key considerations to help you in your search.
Finding the right opportunities
- What are your career goals and aspirations? How might the opportunity help you work towards these?
- Think critically about gaps in your skillset that need to be addressed? How might an opportunity enable you to fill this gap?
- How much time can you commit to work experience? How will you fit it in with your plans and other commitments during term time or over the summer period?
- What type of organisation would you like to gain experience with? A bigger company or chain? A small to medium-sized enterprise or visitor attraction?
Use your networks
Utilise your personal networks to find out if anyone you already know within hospitality and/or tourism can offer a work experience opportunity. When you are studying at university your network also extends to your tutors and other members of Faculty staff who may be researching in the areas that interest you. They may have opportunities or contacts that they are willing to share with you.
Use your initiative and make direct contact with organisations that interest you and apply speculatively - send a targeted CV and a covering letter focused on why you are interested in them and why they should be interested in you.
Create a positive online presence
Making the most of your experience
Once you have secured your work experience, it will be important to recognise that you will be working in a professional environment - your appearance and attitude will need to reflect this. Importantly, let your enthusiasm for the opportunity shine through and aim to get involved - a positive, ‘can do’ attitude will help you stand out.
Below are some ideas on how to impress the organisation whilst on your internship or placement:
- Maximise the variety of different experiences you will get whilst you’re there. Be sociable and get to know the different people within the organisation. Don’t be afraid to volunteer for more work if you see something that needs to be done and you’ve got time.
- Ask for feedback on your performance from an early stage. This will help you to identify any gaps in your skills-set and enable you to develop these whilst with the company.
- Recruiters will look for interns who can work as part of a team and get along with their colleagues - offer your support and assistance with tasks where you can.
- Utilise the opportunity to network - the experience will provide a great way to build your professional network. Before you start your work experience, be prepared - savvy networkers know who they are going to meet, so carry out some initial research on the organisation’s website.
- Use the professional networking site LinkedIn to connect with your co-workers, enabling you to stay in touch after your work experience has ended. The contacts you make can be a valuable resource when you are looking to source further experience or a job opportunity in the future.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions and make suggestions; take an active interest in the organisation and the sector to enable you to develop commercial awareness. This will involve you developing an understanding of what makes the organisation successful in the sector/market. Graduate employers are increasingly looking for this as a key attribute during the recruitment process.
Before you leave your work experience…
Don’t forget that before your work experience opportunity comes to an end, you may want to do the following:
- Ask if the organisation/your manager will write you a reference to use for future applications.
- Ensure you have the contact details of colleagues who may act as mentors, sources of advice or may even help with finding employment opportunities in the future.
- Ask for feedback on your performance – this may include seeking your manager’s or colleagues’ perspective on what you need to do to further enhance your employability in order to be successful in your chosen area of work.
- Make sure you have clearly identified what you have gained from the work experience in terms of skills, experience and personal development. You could complete our Key Skills Audit to help you think about the different skill sets you have developed, for example, when you have worked with others, problem solving skills and work ready skills.
Finding a job
Being a worldwide industry, hospitality and tourism offers many different working environments and therefore a diverse range of career paths.
When considering hospitality management, some of the large chain hotels or restaurants may offer graduate management programmes. This potentially offers a fast route into management positions and experience in a range of operations. Alternatively, hospitality graduates may find work in catering, conference and events management, in facilities management, food service management or within the tourism and leisure sector.
Within the tourism sector, specifically, there are many different areas of work, including services such as retail travel, tour operators and tourist boards, in addition to passenger transport and visitor attractions, including museums and heritage sites.
There are also relevant roles throughout the public sector in hospitals, the armed forces and universities.
Useful websites to help you start your job search:
- MyCareer - Access the Careers and Employability Service website to search the latest vacancies, save job searches and set up job alerts (University of Portsmouth students and graduates - upto five years after graduating - only).
- Milkround - A graduate career resource with hundreds of internships, placements, graduate jobs and schemes, including in the hospitality and tourism industry. Information is presented in a simple, digestible format, including careers advice and career event listings.
- Caterer.com - A site which allows you to search for jobs in the hospitality industry, including opportunities in hotels, restaurants, pubs and bars. The site also incorporates careers advice, including useful job profiles and an A-Z of employers.
- Association for Cultural Enterprises - ACE promotes excellence in cultural trading and provides a jobs page on relevant commercial opportunities within the cultural and heritage sector.
- Leisure Jobs - Offers various job opportunities from entry level to management with an extensive range of jobs in leisure including fitness, sports, tourism, travel, catering and hospitality.
- Leisure opportunities - Provides information on opportunities in all aspects of the leisure industry, including hospitality and tourism, and provides the latest news in the sector.
- Guardian Jobs - The site enables you to find the latest tourism jobs, with the opportunity to sign up for regular job alerts. You can also visit the travel and transport section to discover more roles within the sector.
- The Graduate Recruitment Consultancy - Works with over 6000 local employers across Hampshire and the South Coast, offering a job match service unique to University of Portsmouth students.
- Reed - Recruitment agency, which offers specialist opportunities in leisure and tourism, including areas of work such as travel agencies, business travel, accommodation management and museums.
- C&M Travel Recruitment - Recruitment service promoting opportunities in travel, tourism and leisure, including roles such as project managers, general managers and business development managers. Offers a consultative approach if you are searching for a senior position in the travel industry and can offer contacts, experience and knowledge to find the right role for you.
Tips for finding a job
Keep your online job search flexible as some employers might use different titles to describe the same role.
Keep up to date with industry developments and trends by following professional organisations on social media - this information might help you to identify opportunities to network and tap into the hidden job market.
Useful Twitter feeds
Check out the following Twitter feeds for news and information about current projects and to tap into the hidden jobs market.
- British Hospitality Association
- Institute of Hospitality
- The Caterer
- Visit Britain
- Travel Weekly
The Careers and Employability Service offers support to students throughout their studies and provision for graduates up to five years after graduation, with advice and guidance on:
- Career options
- Further study
- CV and covering letters
- Application forms
- Job search
We have an online jobs board advertising a variety of graduate jobs across different sectors and locations. We also have a dedicated in-house Graduate Recruitment Consultancy that delivers a personalised job matching service.
You can also access our services by calling or emailing us:
Email us: email@example.com
Phone us: +44 (0)2392 842684