But it is a rewarding career in a customer-oriented, people-first field.
“You have to be a people person first,” stressed Peter Kane, program head of the hospitality management program at Tidewater Community College.
The field offers ample opportunity, particularly in Hampton Roads, which includes resort city Virginia Beach and destination vacation spot Williamsburg. TCC’s Associate of Applied Science in Hospitality Management offers two options: one for students wanting careers in food service management and one for students preferring the lodging industry.
“Both degree programs are geared toward students who want to work in hospitality,” Kane said. “Unlike the culinary program in Norfolk, which has kids who want to be chefs, these are students who want to be general managers at hotels, restaurant managers or food and beverage managers.”
The bulk of the 65-credit curriculum focuses on business; both programs include Introduction to Hospitality Industry Computer Systems (HRI 159), Supervision in the Hospitality Industry (HRI 241), Accounting for Small Business (ACC 220) and Hospitality Law (HRI 275).
Classes exclusive to the food management track include Applied Nutrition for Food Service (HRI 119), Recipe and Menu Management (HRI 224), Catering Management (HRI 257) and Food and Beverage Cost Control I (HRI 251), which allows students to create their own unique restaurant menu and price each menu item.
“They end up producing a one-of-a-kind menu you would see in any restaurant,” Kane said. “Every semester someone blows you out of the water with something great.”
Courses unique to the lodging side include Executive Housekeeping (HRI 260), Convention Management and Service (HRI 180), Hotel Front Office Operations (HRI 265) and Strategic Lodging Management (HRI 270).
“Our curriculum is the nuts and bolts – things you need to know to get your foot in the door,” said Kane, noting the value of mobile applications is increasingly important in the field. Management of employees, cost control and customer service are among the skills students develop in the program.
Graduates of TCC can move forward to earn their bachelor’s in tourism and hospitality management.
Kane, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Florida International’s Management School and Troy State, where he earned his master’s, worked as a chef prior to making education his career. He has taught at TCC for 20 years and is an adjunct faculty member at Norfolk State University.
At TCC, Kane relies on seven adjunct faculty – “many of them have been with me all 20 years,” he said. Most are actively working in the hotel and restaurant industry, allowing them to bring their real-world experience into the classroom. In addition, students often take part in field trips facilitated by faculty to local hotels and restaurants.
Kane is optimistic about job growth in a field that is the largest employer in Hampton Roads outside of the Navy.
“It’s an honest living, hard work, long hours, and that sometimes scares people,” he said. “It’s a dynamic field. If you drive around town, you can see all the restaurants and hotels, so there’s plenty of opportunity locally, nationally and even internationally. Graduates have the type of skill you can move around or go anywhere with.”