In hospitality, as in any field, the job hunt takes many forms. Just ask Courtney Lowenstein.
The New Providence, N.J., resident and Johnson & Wales University 2013 graduate landed a job in March with FLIK International – a process that began with a career fair in October and ended with a job offer through a dinner at Providence’s Al Forno restaurant with 14 other prospective employees from JWU, and the company president.
The traditional route of submitting resumes and attending job fairs were paths Lowenstein, 22, followed, but now that she’s moving to Rhode Island to take a job through FLIK International as assistant dining-services manager at Fidelity Investments in Smithfield, she looks back on her meeting with FLIK International executives with something like awe.
“It was a very different interviewing process than I’ve ever seen before,” said Lowenstein. “It was very social. I got to interact with a lot of vice presidents and even the president of the company in a very different way. Instead of [answering questions like] ‘Where are you from?’ and ‘When did you graduate?’ the conversation was more social and informal.
“[The executives] are very much into the company,” she said. “They love it and they’re all about promoting it, and that’s something I was looking for.”
Hospitality jobs, whether in food service or hotels, and whether entry level or managerial, have rebounded since the recession, according to faculty at JWU and the Community College of Rhode Island, which offers a culinary-management certificate and certificates in travel/tourism and hospitality.
In fact, the Hyatt Regency Newport held a job fair on March 20, and the Rhode Island Hospitality Association is hosting one at the Roger Williams Park Casino in Providence on May 14 with five other partners, including the cities of Cranston and Providence, the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, the R.I. Department of Labor and Training’s Business Workforce Center and Workforce Solutions of Providence/Cranston.
Evidence of demand is anecdotal, but Candace Grist, associate professor and coordinator for the travel/tourism and hospitality program at CCRI, said the industry had been taking a hit since the recession in 2008, when students “had to claw their way into jobs,” but now the economy is improving.