For some, helping others is the entrypoint to an incredibly rewarding career. Many professionals in the hotel industry identify a desire to serve as a core value that led them to their dream job. Explore their stories below.
Achieve Your Dreams
A desire to work in hospitality may be a lifelong endeavor. Ramon Reyes loves serving others and always knew he wanted to work in hospitality. He started pursuing opportunities in high school and did not quit until he landed his first job as a hotel doorman. Today, he runs the largest hotel under the Omni brand. What does he believe led to his success? A general manager who encouraged him to pursue his dreams.
Growing up in the Dominican Republic, Damaris Messina noticed early on that hospitality was a significant part of her country’s culture. Feeling that hospitality was in her DNA, Damaris jumped into the industry headfirst. She started as a group sales coordinator and progressed all the way to leading sales efforts at a Marriott property. She attributes her success, in part, to a willingness to broaden her horizons and seek other markets and career opportunities.
Lifelong Experiences Translate Into Success
Many in hospitality have backgrounds—either direct or indirect—in the industry. Janet Gavidia shadowed her mom while she ran a catering business and restaurant and learned you could build a career out of helping others. Now, as associate director of sales, she hosts organizations that strive to deliver a positive message to their guests and customers.
Peter Ricci also started his hospitality journey at a young age, working as a dishwasher in his early teens. His career spans 40 years, during which he worked food & beverage and travel jobs on his way to a position as director of hospitality and tourism, all while earning his doctorate. No matter where he has been in life, Peter says that hospitality has always had a place for him.
Thanks to her natural love of travel and helping others, Kayla Peterson always wanted to work in hospitality. Starting out in food & beverage and moving into human resources, Kayla’s path is a perfect example of how different departments can expand your knowledge as you pursue the ideal fit for your strengths, interests, and overall skill set.
Use Your Natural Abilities To Further Your Career
Sometimes it is not a childhood dream of working in hospitality but the use of your innate skills that bring you into hotels. Cassidy Strickland knew she wanted to work in human resources but never expected it to be in hospitality. Now she cannot imagine working anywhere else.
For Jeff Kinnie, working in hospitality reflects his lifelong desire to show others compassion and empathy. “Hospitality is who I am,” he says. This love of people led him to transition from a bellman role to an executive host.
Osama Al Dargazly is a skilled communicator who emigrated to the United States and served as an interpreter for the U.S. Army before seeking a new way to use his communication skills and engineering degree. Becoming a trainer shortly after joining the hospitality industry, his current role as housekeeping supervisor lets him use his excellent communication skills and engineering background to guide his team effectively.
It is never too early to pursue your dreams of a career in hospitality! High school students can learn valuable skills for jobs in the industry, and apprenticeships through the AHLA Foundation offer first-hand experience for entry-level employees. Professionals of all levels can tap into a variety of resources that support their development and guide them towards the career path that works best for them.
It’s never too late to start either! Hospitality accepts anyone’s work history, since those transferable skills can apply to this field as well. [Related: Do You Need a Degree to Work in Hospitality?]
Learn more about the opportunities that await, no matter your passion, age, or education level.