Just HRM

It is not new for the students taking Hotel and Restaurant Management (HRM) and/or Hospitality Management to hear the following comments about their chosen field:

“Bakit HRM kinuha mo? Magiging tagahugas ka lang ng pinggan, taga-linis, taga-silbi, taga-luto.” (Why did you take HRM? You’ll only end up as a dishwasher, housekeeper, server, cook.)

“HRM lang pala course mo. Madali lang yan.” (It’s just HRM. It’s easy.)

“Pang-mahihinang-ulo lang ang HRM.” (HRM is just for the feeble-minded.)

And many other negative perceptions towards the said program.

As a former student of Hospitality Management, I feel bad whenever I hear those statements from other people, particularly from students taking non-HRM courses. I do not understand the need to belittle other courses, especially if it is not in the fields of Science and Technology, Mathematics, and Business.

But just like anybody else, I also thought that HRM is fun and easy. Right after high school, I honestly do not know which course to take in college. I have planned to pursue Accountancy because I enjoyed my bookkeeping class in high school. But, I have found out that there is a qualifying exam in Accountancy which a student needs to pass in order to retain in the said program. After knowing about it, I have already made a judgment to myself that I won’t make it, even without giving it a try. So, I got discouraged. I do not know what other courses should I put in my college registration form. Then, out of nowhere, I just chose Hospitality Management. I thought I would enjoy the program because some of my friends in high school enrolled in the said program, and the university has state-of-the-art facilities and known for their Tourism and Hospitality Management programs.

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This is my photo together with my fellow BSIHM students during a laboratory activity. (2010)

Yes, HRM is fun. I actually enjoyed the program, especially during practical assessments such as dining operations and kitchen operations. Who would not enjoy feasting what you have produced, cooked, and baked? We also have sessions for beverage tasting and appreciation. Who would not want alcohol in class? (haha!) I also enjoyed wearing different sets of uniforms: for Food and Beverage/Banquet Operations, Bar Management, Front Office Operations, and Kitchen Operations. These uniforms gave me a sense of pride and a feeling of being a young professional instead of being a student. What I really loved the most during my HRM days is the tour. Though expensive, the tour is a relevant part of the program of Tourism and Hospitality Management as it is one way of letting the students letting them experience what the tourism and hospitality industry has to offer. The tour could be domestic or international.

Regarding the subjects, it is not true that we do not have any Science and Math subjects. I actually enjoyed familiarizing different types of bacteria causing food-borne illnesses in our Food Safety and Sanitation class. We were also exposed to the scientific side of food in our Culinary Nutrition class. For the Math-related subjects, we may not have hardcore ones but we have Business Mathematics and Basic Accounting. Even in some of our major subjects, such as Front Office Operations, Kitchen Operations, and Dining Operations, have computations. And of course, we also have general education subjects included in our curriculum such as Environmental Science and Basic Statistics. Aside from Science and Math-related subjects, we also have to familiarize ourselves with different laws, both local and international, focusing on the Tourism and Hospitality industry. We also have to learn to speak at least two foreign languages. So, HRM is not really for the feeble-minded.

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This is me when I was still an IHM student. (2010)

As for the level of difficulty, HRM is not that difficult but it is absolutely not that easy too. Since I had a first hand experience of what HRM is like, I can say that the program is really challenging. It takes a lot of burning passion, diligence, and resiliency in order to survive the program. In HRM, it is not enough to be book-smart. And the program focuses more on your skills in different practical assessments, which are usually subject to time pressure.

It was during my internship when I realized that I was not fit for the program. Real-life situation is totally different from the simulations in school. I was assigned in the kitchen for my internship. There are times that the manager or anyone in authority would yell at you and/or even demean your character – but this is just normal in the industry.  Your total well-being will be challenged which is why you have to be tough physically, mentally, and emotionally. You have to get used to it and do not take it personally. Every minute in the kitchen counts. You are only allowed to sit and take a rest during your scheduled breaks. Overtime is also normal in the industry, and most of the time it is mandatory. You may be required to extend for few more hours outside your 8-hour work period. There were also times that I found myself crying because I can no longer bear the load, the pressure, and the expectations. I even tried to find motivation from my fellow interns, friends, and professors just for me to keep going. But unfortunately, it didn’t work for me. So one day, I have decided not to finish the internship, as well as the program of Hospitality Management. It is not because I do not like my situation in my internship but it is because I have realized that life in the hospitality industry is not meant for me. It is difficult to work on something you do not love wholeheartedly. I admit that I just took the program for granted.

I actually got good grades in all of my subjects. I was even a consistent part of the Dean’s List and I was even a resident academic scholar in our university. I was also given the once in a lifetime opportunity to compete in several prestigious culinary events in the country, that most of my friends in the program wished to join. But look, I did not survive the program that most of us belittle and underestimate.

We all have reasons why we have decided to take a certain course. And your reasons for taking your course are also the same reasons why some students take HRM and/or Hospitality Management program. No one deserves to be belittled. No courses in college deserve to be looked down, be it a bachelor’s degree, an associate degree, or even vocational courses – they all have different levels of difficulty.

HRM is not “just HRM.”

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