Very often on the first day of a course, I spend time discussing with my students why the degree they earn is of value to them and highlight some of the actions they may take to improve their value to an organization.
The value of a college degree in a business field is twofold in the eyes of a recruiter. Think about it: The achievement of a four-year degree demonstrates that a student has made the decisions, sacrifices, and prioritizations necessary to execute what is essentially a four-year strategic plan. As “past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior,” the achievement of a four-year degree demonstrates the type of behavior necessary to be successful in your career. The second value is, of course, the academic instruction the student has received and the ability to continue to learn for a lifetime.
Why Hospitality Degrees Matter
The hospitality industry is a business first and foremost. It is a huge industry, often the largest industry in a country, and represents an enormous economic generative opportunity. A hotel operation may often be one of the largest employers in a market and an important part of the community. Even a small hotel at an interstate exit is a multi-million-dollar business.
The ability to gain experience around the country or the world, the ability to move seamlessly between companies, and the ability to grow rapidly in your career are all benefits of a hospitality degree. There are very few industries in which, in a very short number of years’ post-graduation, you can be the general manager of a multi-million-dollar business unit. Or, you can be your own boss. The opportunities are endless if you are willing to constantly learn and work hard.
Finally, and perhaps most important, the skills you learn and hone in your degree program are transferable to any sector of the hospitality industry—or to any business. Students are often concerned about whether the program they are choosing is the “right” program for them. I always tell my students and their parents that it really does not matter. With a hospitality degree, graduates obtain a skill set that will benefit them no matter where life takes them.
One last note. Students often ask me if it would be better for them to obtain a master’s degree or go out and get experience. I always tell them they should start working immediately and focus on experience. A master’s degree is not typically a requirement in this industry until you get to a multi-unit supervisory role. The wonderful thing about JWU is that our online graduate programs allow our students to continue to work full time as they pursue an advanced degree, so in essence they don’t need to choose between working and continuing to learn.