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In this career interview, a professional working in the hotel industry explains how her position as a night manager is a perfect fit for her goals of attending college classes during the day while working at night. If you work well independently and are skilled at dealing with a variety of unanticipated problems, you may be a great fit for this job!

Q: What is your job title and what industry do you work in? How many years of experience do you have in this field? How would you describe yourself using only three adjectives?

A: I’ve worked in the hotel industry as a front desk representative or night auditor/night manager for a total of 7 years. To describe myself I would use the terms thoughtful, energetic, and strong.

Q: What’s your ethnicity and gender? How has it hurt or helped you? If you ever experienced discrimination, how have you responded and what worked best?

A: I am a white woman, which I believe being a female has both hurt and helped my position in customer service. I notice in comparison to my male counterparts I typically encounter fewer confrontational problems with guests. However, the individuals who do try to argue are typically much more aggressive in nature. I have had difficulty getting positions as a night auditor which I feel is due to my gender. To get around this problem, during my interview I make a point of being direct and taking control to give the best impression and in my dealings with guests I treat them as I would be expected to be treated.

Q: How would you describe what you do? What does your work entail? Are there any common misunderstandings you want to correct about what you do?

A: Working at the front desk requires a strong ability to multitask, which includes coordinating housekeeping, maintenance, and drivers; answering multiple phone lines; completing and changing reservations within the computer system; check in/out guests; concierge tasks to provide visitors with the best possible experience; problem resolution; address any emergencies that arise, which may include medical, aggressive behavior, or maintenance; cash handling; credit card authorizations; stocking general materials; and completing shift related reports. These are just a few items, there may also be the need to drive, basic understanding of maintenance, and other tasks that come up.

Q: On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate your job satisfaction? What might need to change about your job to unleash your full enthusiasm?

A: I would rate the satisfaction at 7, due to the need of dealing with the occasional irate and unreasonable individual which is a hazard of public interaction.

Q: If this job moves your heart – how so? Ever feel like you found your calling or sweet spot in life? If not, what might do it for you?

A: I enjoy the interactions with the visitors to the area. I work in a state that has a great deal to offer guests and like telling them about the many fun activities available to participate in, as well as the lesser known shops and functions that can be enjoyed. If I were paid more, I would definitely say this was the perfect position for me.

Q: Is there anything unique about your situation that readers should know when considering your experiences or accomplishments?

A: I prefer working audit positions which typically are 11pm – 7am shifts. It is an excellent shift to have when attending school, because there is often slow periods during the night in which studying can be completed. The down side is that there is not any additional staff available to help out if the need should arise, and this shift is also the one in which problems will occur.

Q: How did you get started in this line of work? If you could go back and do it differently, what would you change?

A: I started working in hotels because I was attending college and needed to work at the same time. It was the perfect fit for my needs.

Q: What did you learn the hard way in this job and what happened specifically that led up to this lesson?

A: You cannot make everyone happy, no matter how hard you try. Hotels will occasionally be overbooked, meaning there are no rooms available, this naturally makes guests very irate. The only thing that can be done is to offer to find them alternate accommodations at another hotel and try to keep the interaction as amicable as possible.

Q: What is the single most important thing you have learned outside of school about the working world?

A: There is a big difference between book smarts and what happens in real life. There is no way to be prepared for the many things that can and will happen, you must be ready to think on your feet.

Q: What’s the strangest thing that ever happened to you in this job?

A: Working at a hotel, there are individuals who check into a room who then proceed to cause various problems, such as narcotic use, prostitution, domestic violence, and other interesting situations that need to be dealt with. These situations can be very interesting, as the saying goes "People are strange."

Q: Why do you get up and go to work each day? Can you give an example of something that really made you feel good or proud?

A: I really like the interactions with people who are on vacation. They have a fantastic enthusiasm for new experiences which is contagious. We had a guest who had a medical emergency while at the hotel. I was able to coordinate the right medical services and notify his family of the situation. It also included making reservations at the hotel for the family members to be with him during his hospital stay.

Q: What kind of challenges do you handle and what makes you want to just quit?

A: There are times when there is a lack of foresight and thoughtlessness that causes unnecessary stress and extra work for front desk people. This frustration comes from not only employees of the hotel but guests at the hotel as well.

Q: How stressful is your job? Are you able to maintain a comfortable or healthy work-life balance? How?

A: There are days of extreme stress, like any job. The hotel I work at is a small one and the staff is close. We all participate in activities outside of the workplace together which relieves stress because we all know what the others are having to deal with.

Q: What’s a rough salary range for the position you hold? Are you paid enough and/or happy living within your means?

A: Wages are typically just a little above minimum wage. Given my current position I am happy, I am able to attend classes during the day and work at night which accommodates my current goals.

Q: How much vacation do you take? Is it enough?

A: The hotel I work at allows one week of vacation a year. I would like to have more, but it gives me the down time for holidays that I appreciate.

Q: What education and skills do you need to get hired and succeed in this field?

A: A high school diploma is required and familiarity with computers. You will need to enjoy working with people to succeed and basic common sense. If planning on working an audit position, attention to detail is vital since this position balances the daily activities and corrects any errors that are made. The night position also requires a person who is able to deal with a wide variety of situations and personalities without needing assistance.

Q: What would you tell a friend considering your line of work?

A: Different hotels offer different working situations so it should be researched thoroughly before accepting a position. Some locations offer full benefits and good pay, others only offer pay.

Q: If you could write your own ticket, what would you like to be doing in five years?

A: I would like to own my own small hotel with a paid parking attached.