This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. All opinions are 100% mine.
Everyone is always hungry. Sometimes for food, sometimes for career advancement. Its when you combine the two that you realize what the most fruitful industry is for chasing the ultimate American dream. Restaurants.
Let’s say you are 18 years old, fresh out of high school, casting about for a job that will give you some extra cash, while also presenting the opportunity for moving up through the ranks (quickly). You could do worse than the restaurant industry. Finding your way to the American dream of a stable, growing career should start behind a host stand, a bar or a piping hot grill.
If you look at the top line executives in restaurant companies, most have a background in serving, cooking or managing on the front lines of a foodservice unit. Nine out of 10 foodservice workers over the age of 35 have advanced to a higher-paying position in the industry. That means starting out bussing tables or clearing empty cocktail glasses has a pretty high probability of turning into a server job, or even a management position.
Going back to that executive branch of the restaurant industry: 84% of execs were a restaurant manager at some point in their careers. 59% held positions in the kitchen as a chef or cook during their foodservice tenures. The notion of starting out at the bottom and ending up at (or at least near) the top is alive and well in restaurants.
Sally Smith, the CEO of Buffalo Wild Wings, waited tables throughout college. Norman Brinker, the legendary restaurant operator who invented the salad bar, started out at a small chain of diners in San Diego, right after graduating. He went on to found Steak and Ale and Bennigans, creating one of the most iconic casual-dining conglomerates in foodservice. The industry is awash in these types of success stories.
When you get that first job, slinging hash or serving drinks, it is only the start of a fulfilling career. The path to success is laid out before you. Granted, there is a lot of turnover in restaurant jobs. But that is where the secret opportunity comes from. People are always coming and going. There is always going to be a chance to move into that waiter job, left by the guy trying to become an actor. Or that assistant manager position, vacant after the previous occupant jumped to another restaurant chain.
Currently, more than 50% of every type of employee, from dishwasher to general manager, believes that foodservice offers a unique path to advancement. It can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Even when you are scraping scrapple off a diner plate, you can see the next level and how the rise to vice president of operations for a major, multinational chain.
What all of these executives know is that you can never run out of demand for food. People are always going to need to eat. Which means that the restaurant industry has space for growth that other sectors of the economy do not. So keep on striving. The numbers prove that foodservice can funnel you straight to the top. Check out the This Way to the American Dream graphic below.