One question that we get asked is, “will my previous restaurant experience be of any use to me as a software developer?” Now, this question isn’t unique to just hospitality. We get it about every industry. However, the answer is that your previous experience is always good in software development. And in this case, it does work to move from hospitality to software development.
Have you ever heard that saying, “every industry is in the tech industry”? It’s true. Every industry now deals with more technologies than ever before. Therefore, the need for software developers now reaches them all.
Think about it. Can you name a business that doesn’t have a website? What about a company that doesn’t use CRM tools? The hospitality industry is hugely reliant on software development. From getting people into the hotel to managing their stay – it’s all linked to the work done by software developers. Not only that though, from check out to the next time they check-in, is reliant on coders too.
Clever Software Development
So, software development is all about identifying problems and coming up with workable technological solutions. For example, let’s pretend the problem is that you don’t enjoy ordering food to your door over the phone, or that you can’t get to a telephone to make said order. Personally, I used to hate calling for food. So, one day, an app was created called Just-Eat. First, the developer identified the problem, which was that he couldn’t find the phone number to order a Pizza. Then the same talented programmer came up with a solution by building an app where people could search various menus from different restaurants and do the whole thing through a computer – or a smartphone. That intelligent problem-solving app turned into one of the most valuable food delivery apps in the world.
Another example of a problem-solving app would be something like bookings.com. The problem that needed to be solved was how to find the best prices for flights and accommodation. The solution was a site that just gave you all prices for all airlines and thousands of hotels.
So, what do these anecdotes mean? Well, every industry has problems that need solving, from simple issues in the hospitality industry to global problems in governments. This is why having a non-programming background can be hugely advantageous to new software developers. You have experienced the problems first hand, and if you’re a problem solver, you might be able to work as one of the developers that comes up with the next big idea for that industry.
What is the Hospitality industry?
Let’s define the hospitality industry and then base an example on just one arm. The industry is extremely broad and covers everything from accommodation to food and drinks. It also includes much of the travel and tourism industry. So, let’s use an example from food and drink, specifically a restaurant worker.
From hospitality to software Development
One example that I often use when I am talking at open events for Code Institute is a graduate of ours who used to work as a manager in the restaurant industry. After some time in this role, he discovered that it wasn’t for him. He grew tired of rostering and long hours and opted to become a software developer.
Throughout the programme, he worked hard and excelled. He was happy to face challenges to reach his end goal of becoming a software developer. After graduating, he went on to work for a global technology consultancy agency who worked with many clients in the restaurant industry. His experience in that industry is part of the reason that he landed the role because he had a first-hand understanding of some of the daily problems that were faced by restaurants.
Broaden collective knowledge
Stories like the one above are familiar. Think about substantial consultancy companies like Accenture and Capgemini. These companies work with all industries by creating software for them. These same companies would recognise the value in the past experience that their employees have because it broadens their collective knowledge. To have staff that can understand multiple industries is a plus. Also, these companies can be attracted to customer-facing skills, which are high in the hospitality industry.
Apart from that, companies also appreciate skills that are learned outside of software development. They like to know if you have the social skills to work with other people. Another benefit of having previous experience is whether or not you can highlight other skills like leadership and problem-solving.
Work for yourself
One of the major benefits of being a software developer is the ability to be able to come up with a business for yourself. Many Code Institute students opt to become software developers because they have spotted a gap in their current line of work. They have ideas that will solve problems for their industry. However, to solve those problems, they need the skills to build relevant software.
To answer the question
So, to answer the question I laid out above, yes, experience from the hospitality industry is good to have if you want to become a software developer. You have to realise the benefits of the strengths that you bring with you from any industry. Check out our student podcast on this topic here.