Having completed a Management Trainee Programme, IU (formerly known as IUBH) alumnus Tobias Schweizer works as an Expert in Franchise & Future Openings for Deutsche Hospitality. During my studies, I was already preoccupied with thinking about my professional future. That's why I realized early on that I wanted to focus on a management trainee programme in the area of the rooms division, where you take care of all guest needs from reception to housekeeping. I sent out my first applications early because many of these programmes have a multi-stage selection process. As a result, I had already secured the position as Rooms Division Management Trainee at Steigenberger before I even started my bachelor's thesis.
MANAGEMENT AND LEADERSHIP QUALITIES FOR JOINING THE FAMILY BUSINESS
The trainee programme was specially tailored to my previous learning experience and areas of interest. In my case, I went through the housekeeping, reception, reservations, revenue management and controlling departments. Of course I learned the general basics first. But, depending on the department structure, I frequently also took on greater levels of responsibility and even some management tasks. After completing the trainee programme, I continued working with Steigenberger as a duty manager at the Frankfurter Hof. In 2019 I also took part in the Young Potential Programme held by Steigenberger and Deutsche Hospitality. Through a series of seminars on management and leadership, I was able to acquire a broad foundation of leadership skills and prepare myself for a management role.
Following the programme, I received individualised support and assistance from our Personnel Development Department. When a position opened up at Head Office some time later, I didn't have to think twice, and before long I found myself in my new role as Expert in Franchise & Future Openings. However, saying goodbye to Frankfurter Hof after two fantastic years was not easy. I am very grateful for the time I got to spend in this prestigious establishment, and for how much I learned; suffice it to say, that on-the-ground experience paved the way for my current position. Practical experience is currently in great demand at Head Office.
In terms of my future plans, I can certainly see myself making a career at Group level. Since I come from a family of hoteliers, I also have the opportunity to get involved with our family business. Of course, I still hold onto my childhood dream of becoming a long-term director of a hotel. But I would also be interested in the idea of a change paths to other industries, such as hotel-related management consulting or project development.
CAREER DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES IN THE HOTEL INDUSTRY
Due to the shortage of skilled workers in the industry, young, ambitious and well-trained employees are in high demand. In my opinion, there has been a shift in hotel-industry thinking in recent years in favour of the employees. The times of unpaid internships and poor working conditions are over, because no company can afford to attract the top talents anymore. On the contrary - companies are increasingly using their ingenuity to attract the best candidates. If you then consider the many international opportunities, I think it’s fair to say the industry is more attractive than ever before.
In addition, the principles of service and a customer-facing approach, which you learn from scratch in the hotel industry, is in demand across all sectors. Candidates with a hotel background are known for their high level of soft skills, for always putting the customer first, and for their efficiency. This mix makes them attractive as career changers for many other industries and offers many career opportunities even outside the hospitality sector.
STUDYING AT IU: PRACTICE-ORIENTED KNOWLEDGE, FRIENDS FOR LIFE, AND A RELIABLE NETWORK
The hotel-specific studies I undertook at IU (formerly known as IUBH), such as the Rooms Division Management module, have been of enduring help to me in my professional life, where I am confronted daily with key figures and KPIs. Furthermore, the whole knowledge-foundation I acquired helps me to coordinate and prioritise what I am working on every day from a management perspective. Looking back, I can safely say that the IU (formerly known as IUBH) community, and the great times I spent with my fellow students, were simply unique. Many of my classmates have become friends for life, and I would not want to miss them. Due to the strong connections between the hotel and tourism industries, students have the opportunity to build a network that they can fall back on in many life situations. In addition, thanks to the small class sizes at IU (formerly known as IUBH), the learning atmosphere is really positive – there’s a great rapport between professors and students.
My advice to new career-starters is to build up a healthy sense of self-confidence, and never to sell yourself short. It’s also very important to research potential positions early enough to meet the application deadlines. This really helps with a smooth transition from university to work.