Working Hospitably: By Erin Annis, Recruitment Consultant

What led you to the hospitality career path?

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I remember being in 9th grade, sitting with my Dad at a downtown restaurant that had new ownership and had changed drastically since the last time we’d been there.  The topic of hospitality came up…and that there actually was a degree in the field of hospitality management!  

I thought that was such an intriguing and unique concept.  On family vacations, the hotel was always my ‘happy place’.  So, contributing to someone else’s experience of such joy – combined with the opportunity for travel – seemed the most rewarding career choice that I could imagine!  

So, I studied Hospitality Management at the University of Guelph.  During my co-op placement, I landed an amazing opportunity in Human Resources with one of the Starwood Hotels. That experience doubly confirmed that this was definitely the path I wanted to follow.  My co-op teacher visited me at my placement and said something along the lines of “Wow, I have never seen someone so happy to be at work!”  She even decided to feature me in an article in our high school newsletter (a mini-work story, if you will!)

More specifically, what led you to hospitality recruitment?

The University of Guelph does an amazing job of highlighting how widespread the hospitality industry really is.  Courses range from Hotels to Restaurants to Airlines to Casinos to Property Management   – Hospitality is a multi-faceted industry!  I’ve always considered myself a "people person” as well, so the appeal of Human Resources was always there. Combining my passion for both Hospitality and Human Resources was the best of both worlds for me.  After graduating from Guelph, I knew I would come to a fork-in-the-road situation, since Corporate Recruitment roles, as with many roles, are extremely competitive.  I knew that I would have to take a few career steps before landing a role like that.  I could go either the Operations route in the hotel sector – and work my way up through the Front Desk ranks ­ – or I could get my foot in the door with recruitment in general.  

After graduation, I landed a Recruitment Internship with a recruitment company focusing on the legal sector.  Definitely not where I envisioned I’d be, but it played a major part in my career growth.  I took a leap out of my comfort zone into an environment where two great supervisors took me under their wings and showed me the recruitment ropes in an agency setting. Agency recruitment is closely linked to sales (as opposed to HR) and it involves  lots of prospecting and cold calling.  So this choice was especially surprising, since anyone who knew me growing up knows that I was the shyest kid ever!   However, I truly think that being in the hospitality industry and working in it since high school ­ – everything from McDonald’s to serving to working as a Reservation Agent ­ – has helped bring me out of my shell and improved my ability to think on my feet. 

For over a year now, I have been working as a Recruiter at Global Hospitality Inc, a hospitality recruitment company.  Every day is different…thinking on my feet, being personable, and understanding in-depth what motivate others.  These are all musts! 

Most rewarding parts of the job?  

There are several rewarding aspects of my job. What stands out to me is its variety and unconventionality – being exposed to the full spectrum of hospitality, working on roles ranging from Line Cook to CEO, and for a wide range of respected companies across North America! 

One of the accomplishments I’m very proud of is getting to work on a search for a high-profile restaurant opening before it was released to the public, and placing the General Manager there. I never thought at the age of 22 I’d be able to say that I’ve done that. 

Another would be the overall feeling that comes with any successful placement, when you know you have made a great match for the candidate and the client.  There are a lot of moving parts that go into a successful  placement  – after all, these are peoples’ careers we are dealing with and things are never taken lightly.  It is always great when you hear that your candidate is happy as the job goes on.  I've received lovely thank-you notes and Christmas cards and I keep them on the desk to remind myself of my accomplishments.

Biggest job challenge?

When I began recruiting and was working on more junior early-career roles, I thought I would have a way easier time connecting with those younger candidates since I’m younger myself.  What I quickly realized was pretty blatantly clear – there are a lot of older people who are currently employed who still have no idea what they want to do! There is nothing wrong with that whatsoever.  However, when you are a recruiter representing a candidate who cannot commit to an interview or the idea of a new job, it can b e challenging.  This has made me greatly value transparency and clear communication at work  ­– and this  carries over to everyday life as well. 

Best advice to anyone entering the workforce?

How I got my first “real” job out of university was by proactively reaching out to companies that I wanted to work for.  After completing my internship, I knew  that I wanted my permanent full-time role to be a step into hospitality.  So, I reached out to a few hospitality-specific recruitment companies and landed this role!  That was purely from conducting my own research on what’s out there, then connecting and expressing interest.  

Advice to anyone starting out in the workforce …?

  • Make a list of some places you’ve always wanted to work.  
  • Do a search of companies that fall into a similar realm – and send an email expressing your interest in working there!  Whether there is a job opening or not, they will know your name and most likely remember you when a suitable opening does come up.  
  • Do anything you can to expand your network.  Research companies, attend events, even just talking to people in your own network about your career goals could lead somewhere

It never hurts to be proactive!

 

Living Every Day to The Fullest: Grad Turns Life Lessons into Consulting Business, Advocacy Efforts

Story by Rob O’Flanagan

   
  
    
  
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    His dog , Sawyer, in the lead, Drew Cumpson motors down the back  roads near his home, with personal support worker Matt Crosgrove alongside.

His dog , Sawyer, in the lead, Drew Cumpson motors down the back  roads near his home, with personal support worker Matt Crosgrove alongside.

Drew Cumpson books it on the back roads of Loyalist Township in his power wheelchair, an Invacare TDX SP model loaded with features. He steers, brakes and guns it with subtle movements of his head and neck. His T-shirt reads “Eat. Sleep. Travel” – the slogan of his former school at the University of Guelph.

Cumpson’s dog, Sawyer, takes the lead as Cumpson motors down the blacktop, alongside hayfields north of Amherstview, in the rolling landscape upcountry from Lake Ontario’s northeastern shore.

The young man’s personal support workers have trouble keeping up. One lags well behind, preserving her energy, while another quicksteps alongside. The chair goes just fast enough to give Sawyer a workout and Cumpson a breeze.

A graduate of the School of Hospitality, Food and Tourism Management, Cumpson, 26, is a determined, stubborn and resilient person who is on a mission to live life to the fullest. As a quadriplegic, he wants to help others with disabilities do the same.

His life over the last six years, he says, has been one big learning curve – a difficult process of learning to live well after suddenly losing the use of his arms and legs. He has lots of experiential learning to share.

Earlier this year, Cumpson launched his website www.drewcumpson.com, the centrepiece of his H & D (Hospitality and Disability) Consulting business. He advises restaurants, hotels and airlines on improving accessibility, while coaching people with disabilities in everything from travel planning to obtaining post-secondary education to maintaining a healthy attitude.

He also advocates for better health services for people with disabilities, and for changes to the Ontario Disability Support Program so it provides more support for those wanting to get o the program, earn a living or start a business.

“Yes, my life has changed,” he says, sitting in the open-space living room of the rural home built specially for him by his family, close to the medical services he needs in nearby Kingston.

“I cannot do all the same things that I used to do, but I try to do as many of those things as possible, in order to continue living a life that is comparable to what I would be doing if I did not have my accident. I have to go forward in life, no matter what. I am not giving up.”

A few days before the 2011 swimming accident that altered his life, Cumpson was looking out over Peru’s Andes Mountains from the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, among the seven wonders of the world. He vowed then to visit the remaining six. It was one of his last experiences on foot.

Unaccustomed to world travel as a person with a disability, he nevertheless visited Mexico’s Chichen Itza in early 2016, another of the world’s wonders. He did it because he promised himself he would.

He encountered many obstacles and inaccessible places. It inspired him to work to make travel easier for those with a disability.

“I’ve always been someone who, once something is in my mind, I am going to focus on completing that task, no matter what.”

In May 2011, Cumpson was part of a University of Guelph humanitarian trip to Peru, helping to improve the lives of local people living in poverty.

On the last day of the volunteer trip, he was swimming in the Pacific Ocean. One especially powerful wave drove him headfirst into the rocky ocean floor. The impact fractured the fourth cervical vertebra in his spine.

“I don’t really recall the first two or three weeks after the accident,” he says.

Paralyzed from the armpits down, he spent 16 months in intensive care at Kingston General Hospital. There were many complications. He was transferred to the former St. Mary’s of the Lake facility for complex continuing care, where he spent three years.

Now, Cumpson lives at home in a decidedly non-clinical setting. He requires round-the-clock care. Medical specialists monitor his health. He needs a ventilator to breathe and a pacemaker to ensure his heart rate remains above 60 beats per minute.

It was at St. Mary’s that he decided to resume his studies at U of G. He had been away for ve semes- ters. The option of transferring to Queen’s University in Kingston was suggested, but he said no. He would stick with what he called U of G’s “best in the nation” hospitality program.

“I wanted to show that even though you have a disability, you can still do everything from an educational perspective,” says Cumpson, whose tattoo of a leaping Moby Dick on his left bicep is a symbol of his own story of strength and survival.

After starting back at the University in January 2013, he learned that his mother was diagnosed with cancer. She fought a strong battle, he says, but died on July 17 that year.

Cumpson persevered. He took all the distance education classes he could. Skype allowed him to attend further courses remotely. Other students took notes for him. Faculty and sta did whatever was necessary to make it happen. “They were just amazing,” Cumpson says.

Mike von Massow, now a professor in the Department of Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics, was teaching in the College of Business and Economics when Cumpson made his return to his studies.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it,” says von Massow. “His commitment to finishing the program – and the support he got from other students – was admirable. It really was amazing. It was inspira- tional when he came across the stage to graduate.”

Cumpson’s body is confined, but his mind is unconstrained. It darts and dashes, keeping him awake at night.

“My brain never shuts off,” he says. “It does not shut off at all.”

He is bombarded by thoughts about his future, his consulting business, the challenges he faces and how best to overcome them. There is a connecting thread of optimism running through it all.

   
  
    
  
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    Cumpson’s optimism, and his smile, shines through.

Cumpson’s optimism, and his smile, shines through.

 “I’ve honestly never seen him have a negative day,” says Madison Simmons, a best friend. “He’s always positive. He’s just so driven. When he sets his mind to something, he has to see it through.”

Before his accident, Cumpson had no idea of the challenges facing people with disabilities. “As someone who went from being able-bodied to disabled in an instant, I realized very quickly how inaccessible it is, and how many barriers there are in this world for people living with disabilities of any kind.”

Yet Cumpson doesn’t think of himself as disabled. “In terms of my disability, I look at it more as not really a disability, but something along the lines of just having different abilities now than what I had before. My abilities in life have changed, but I still have these other abilities to push forever and work through in life.”

This story, reprinted with permission, originally appeared in The University of Guelph’s Portico Magazine. 

H & D Consulting, Cumpson’s consulting practice offers practical guidance for people with disabilities on

  • the dos and don’ts of world travel
  • the pursuit of higher education
  • the art of self advocacy
  • sex and relationships

 

The art of newspaper design

By Andrew Vowles

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  Photo Credit:  Lindsay Lapchuk

Photo Credit:  Lindsay Lapchuk

Matt French tells stories not with words but with design.

An award-winning page designer and assistant art director for The Globe and Mail newspaper, he aims to create eye-catching page layouts that give readers a clear idea what the story is about before they read a sentence.

“The designer is there to make the message as clear and effective as they can,” says French, adding that a skillful design draws attention to the article rather than to the design elements, including graphics, photos and typography.

Take the Globe’s front-page coverage of last fall’s final report of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The story was illustrated by oversize numerals that punched out the key points: numbers of victims, witnesses and deaths associated with the country’s former residential schools.

“The story was the numbers, and the numbers are the impact,” says French, B.Comm. ’07. “It’s not about any highfalutin’ image or fancy colour.”

Most days, French, 30, helps design the newspaper’s front page, working with a “cast of many,” including editors, headline writers and the paper’s creative director. Over the past year, he’s designed more than 300 front pages and thousands more inside.

French’s design skills are self-taught, but his career path started at U of G. Always driven to do creative work, he pursued a commerce degree thinking he could “make a living doing something creative in business” such as working for a marketing agency.

During a summer job in a marketing department, French took a stab at creating promotional material for trade publications. Back on campus during third and fourth year, he then worked at Guelph’s student newspaper, The Ontarion, as photo and graphics editor, and layout editor. Recalling those days, he says, “You were able to cut your teeth doing what you wanted. Learning from your mistakes gave you the freedom to make mistakes.”

Following graduation, he worked at the Woolwich Observer. After three years there, he worked for 24 Hours, a Toronto commuter newspaper, and the Toronto Sun, among others.

French got called up to the “big leagues” in 2011. Up to 400,000 people read The Globe and Mail’s weekend edition.

Among his notable Globe projects, he points to an “Unremembered” series of articles last year about the suicides of Canadian soldiers and veterans who fought in Afghanistan, as well as the 11th-hour package of reports covering the 2015 federal election that vaulted Justin Trudeau’s Liberals into power.

Another favourite was the 2012 Remembrance Day cover, with the word “Remember” stamped over a soldier’s image. “It did what it was intended to do: cause the reader to pause and reflect.”

A fan of the Washington Post and the Guardian, French brings what he calls a simple and subtle but graphic approach to his work, as well as a refined sense of visual literacy — all without getting in the way of the story.

Sitting down to assemble a page, he knows that reporters and editors might have put months of work and passion into the article. “At the end, I’m the person responsible for taking it over the finish line, making it sing so that people connect with it.”

 

This story, reprinted with permission, originally appeared in The University of Guelph’s Portico Magazine. 

Allison Day: Blogger, food stylist, photographer, and cookbook author

By Susan Bubak

Beets are an often overlooked vegetable, but Allison Day, BA ’10 (University of Guelph) is trying to change that with her Yummy Beet food blog. Aside from beets, you’ll find almost every type of produce presented in a rainbow of colours along with “vegetable forward” recipes to prepare them yourself.

Now living in Hamilton, Ontario,  Day studied Sociology at the University of Guelph  and then completed a postgraduate program to become a registered holistic nutritionist, specializing in natural foods. “That inspired me to get in the kitchen and start experimenting,” she says. “I grew up in the country surrounded by farms and tons of produce, and that really inspired me to learn more about where my food came from and pay more attention to what I was eating.” She admits that beets aren’t her favourite vegetable, but decided to name her blog after them as a pun on a news beat.

When her younger sister was diagnosed with celiac disease and lactose intolerance, Day began experimenting with recipes that were gluten- and dairy-free. “It helped me understand there are people who can’t eat certain foods, and they still want to have foods that they enjoy and love,” she says. “It shows people with food allergies or intolerance that they can still eat really tasty food, and it doesn’t need to be expensive or from a box.”

Aside from her blog, Day has published two cookbooks: Whole Bowls features gluten-free and vegetarian recipes; and Purely Pumpkin features recipes using the gourd in everything from pies to pizza. She is also a regular contributor to Food Network Canada and has appeared in numerous publications, including the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Prevention and SHAPE.

Preparation can make or break a vegetable dish, she says. Despite her background as a nutritionist, “it took me a long time to learn how to prepare things properly.” Roasting vegetables, she adds, brings out their flavour more than boiling or steaming them.

Seasonings, especially salt, are key ingredients in her recipes. “I use more salt than normal,” says Day. “I think salt is a good thing. It really brings out the natural sweetness and savouriness of vegetables.” She also uses acidic ingredients such as lemon, lime and vinegar to make flavours pop.

Miso noodle bowls created and photographed by Allison Day.

When she isn’t working on her own cookbooks, Day spends most of her time on her blog. She does her own food styling and photography, making each meal look like a work of art. She also works on sponsored content for various brands, which involves testing recipes, taking photos and promoting them on social media.

She says photographing inanimate objects like food can be challenging. “Setting the ‘scene’ for a shoot can take longer than the actual photography process,” says Day, who also photographed all the images in her cookbooks. “Styling dishes makes a mess. From start to finish, a photo shoot for one dish can take two hours before post-production.”

Presentation can make even the blandest foods look mouth-watering. People eat with their eyes first, she says, so she tries to make each photo “inviting and warm, so someone wants to reach into their screen or into the book and grab it.”

This story, reprinted with permission, originally appeared in The University of Guelph’s Portico Magazine. 

Marketing Communications Specialist: “Very Chaotic…In a Good way!”

By Michelle Doyle, WorkStory Ambassador at Western University

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Susan Mutterback is Marketing Communications Specialist at StarTech.com, a manufacturer of products for IT professionals. The company extends beyond the headquarters in London, Ontario to 14 countries worldwide!

As a Marketing Communications Specialist, Susan handles social media, public relations and general marketing communication such as ads and catalogues. This is a new role and is “very chaotic…in a good way!”  Because it is new, Susan’s responsibilities were built from the ground up which she finds an exciting challenge. Her favourite part of the job?   Susan emphasized her admiration for the people she works with…she really enjoys the collaboration and brainstorming processes that occur day-to-day at the office. 

Susan’s work journey began at the University of Guelph where she studied Psychology in her first year.  She didn’t really have a solid idea of what she wanted to do, just a vague interest in the field. After that year, she knew it wasn’t a perfect fit for her and decided to take a year off to figure things out.  She moved back home and took courses at the University of Windsor to keep her average up. The following year, Susan transferred to Western University and started thinking about public relations and marketing.  She graduated from Western in political science and sociology and then applied to Western’s public relations program. Of all her formal education, Susan found public relations the most interesting area of study. The final four months of the program involved an internship position. Susan particularly enjoyed this and found it extremely valuable in helping her gain real-world experience in the field.

After the internship, Susan had completed her education, but had received no job offers. She moved back home and worked at an unpaid internship for about 9 months. During this time, she remained persistent and applied to job after job, not receiving any replies. Finally, Susan was thrilled to receive a call from StarTech.com!  She moved right back to London, joined the company, and hasn’t looked back since.

Susan started out in a marketing role that was mainly sales focused. She enjoyed it, but was particularly interested in getting a position in her field.  When the Marketing Communications Specialist job opened up, she applied!

Susan has nothing but positive comments about working for StarTech.com, and is thrilled to be at such a wonderful company and working with such collaborative and supportive coworkers.   When asked what advice she’d give to those entering the job market,  Susan’s first words were “It’s hard”.  Then she highlighted the importance of taking jobs that aren’t necessarily in your specific desired field for the experience you will get from working.  She emphasized the “foot in the door” approach, the importance of starting off somewhere, and getting your name out there.  Lastly, she noted that unpaid internships can be good experiences. Susan was thankful for hers and believes that students entering the job field should not underestimate them.


Volunteer Soars with Wild Ontario

By Annette Dawm, WorkStory Ambassador

Samantha “Sam” Manner works as volunteer Team Leader for the Wild Ontario program in the city of Guelph, where she is also attending university. Currently, Sam is working towards her Bachelor of Science. Her major is animal biology and her minor is in nutrition. Her future plans include either to attend the Ontario Veterinary College or to “work in the field of animal behaviour and welfare”. Although Sam has a very busy student life, she is still able to volunteer with the Wild Ontario program at least 4 times a week! Part of why Sam finds volunteering so rewarding is that she gets to educate the public while working with her team at Wild Ontario.

“I manage the daily health, training, and nutrition of a non-releasable American Kestrel, named Artemis, while also overseeing three of her other handlers. With our ten non-releasable birds of prey, Wild Ontario travels across the province delivering educational programs to the public on a variety of topics ranging from: ornithology, [the study of birds] ecology, conservation and stewardship.”

Artemis is considered to be “non-releasable”, which means that she will never be able to live in the wild. Now, with the help of Sam and her other handlers, she “is serving as an ambassador for her species through her story.” Sam relates Artemis’ story below:

“Artemis is a 5 year old female American Kestrel, the smallest falcon species in North America. Unfortunately, Artemis was taken from the wild at a young age and was likely being kept as a pet by someone. Housing wildlife without proper licensing is illegal. As a consequence of people taking her from the wild, she did not get the opportunity to learn the skills she would need to survive in the wild. In 2009, Artemis was surrendered to the Toronto Wildlife Centre. Here, they do tests to determine the bird’s fear of humans. Artemis was not afraid of humans and willingly took food from [them], which means it would be dangerous for her and for humans if she was released back to the wild.”

Sam has a few favourite things about volunteering with Wild Ontario and they involve working with others in the program as well as with the public. She tells us that, “One of my favourite things is working with my team towards a training goal for either the bird or the handler and seeing all that hard work come to fruition. At the programs we deliver, one of my favourite things is sharing information about the birds with members of the public and having them get really excited and wanting to share what they learned with all of their family and friends.”

For anyone who is interested in getting involved with Wild Ontario, Sam advises that it is a “big-time commitment”. Potential volunteers should be mindful that they will be required to dedicate a certain amount of their time to the program. If you wish to apply, you should either live in Guelph, Ontario or “have the ability to travel to Guelph at least 4 times a week.” The volunteer application and more information about the program can be found on their website, www.ourwildontario.ca .

Applying Outside the (Online) Box: Daniel's Engineering Story

By Daniel Fensom      Facilitated by Elyse Trudell, WorkStory Ambassador

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I was quite amazed reading the stories of young, talented people on this site. In thinking of what to write for my post, it took many hours to determine how my story compared to those of successful entrepreneurs, brilliant artists and activists for social change. So I thought I would begin, from what I remember to be the first thing I wanted to become when I grew up; a professional hockey player. Upon realizing just how realistic this dream was by the young age of 14, I thought it would be time to explore other career paths; perhaps an avalanche hunter in BC, guide in Yukon or a lobster fisherman on the east coast.

I settled on attending the University of Guelph for environmental engineering. I had no idea what to expect prior to the start of second year. I always knew I had a deep passion for nature and exploring the wilderness so I figured that with my math and science credits from high school, environmental engineering would be a suitable subject. I initially thought that I would be designing wind turbines and solar panels but I was gravely mistaken. Much of what I learned in school was about water quality and treatment, air pollution and soil quality.

Although I liked and appreciated the new material I was learning, I often thought that maybe engineering wasn’t for me; maybe attending law school or completing a master’s degree would better suit me. The choice became especially difficult in my final year of university when several of my friends decided to pursue a master’s degree. I came to the conclusion that I should test the engineering job market first and if it did not pan out, I could always return to school. So I scoured the school’s job posting website, recruiting websites and top engineering firm job sites; applying to every applicable job I could. It then occurred to me that there are probably thousands of recent grads applying to these same positions with more experience and higher final grades than me. I then started to search out the smaller firms; ones not listed in the top 100 engineering firms. Although there weren’t necessarily job openings posted, I sent in my resume anyways as a general application.

My hunch worked and soon after graduating, I was lucky enough to have been offered a job at a small engineering consulting firm – XCG Consultants Ltd. It happened to be for a position that I was very intrigued by and enjoyed learning about in school. I have been at this firm now for almost a year and a half and I have really enjoyed my time there. The projects are extremely diverse and I’ve yet to work the same day twice.

The projects I am involved with are mostly water related where I simulate what happens to municipalities under extreme storm events. We then recommend solutions based on our results. As a smaller consulting firm, we do get our share of larger projects but we also get quite a few smaller projects. The smaller projects are really what provide with valuable learning experiences and the opportunity to work in a range of disciplines.

I think the variety of my work is a result of the culture surrounding smaller engineering consulting firms. Smaller companies don’t often employ many junior staff and as a result, junior staff are often assigned a number of projects of a wide variety rather than specializing in one specific task or project. Another intriguing aspect of smaller companies is the hierarchal structure. As a junior staffer, you’re often dealing directly with the senior partners and associates, thus minimizing the distance between you and the final decision makers.

Just recently I learned a valuable lesson for all job seekers. Senior managers don’t like posting job openings online. They seem to find it difficult to differentiate the people who are really passionate about the work from those who have used the same cover letters for the hundreds of other job postings. Senior managers prefer those who take the initiative of sending in their applications even though a posting online may not exist. I’m not saying applying to all the postings on a recruiting website is a bad idea, but rather diversify your applications to firms who don’t post openings online.

If you are truly passionate about a position or field of work, show it and apply where you want to work, regardless of online postings.