When to Pursue a Career That is Not Your College Major - Julie Hession

In Chapter 6 of 21 in her 2011 Capture Your Flag interview, food entrepreneur Julie Hession answers "After majoring in hotel and restaurant management in college what made you decide to shift away from that in your career?"  Studying in Las Vegas, Hession finds the glamorous picture of hotel management career does not meet what she experiences.  With advice from her father, she decides to make a change to find work outside her college major.  Julie Hession is the founder of Julie Anne's All Natural Granola Company.  Passionate about food since childhood, Hession has developed her career by food blogging, cooking contests, and starting fine food companies.  Hession earned an MBA in Marketing from Duke University and a BA from UNLV. 


Erik:  After majoring in hotel and restaurant management in college, what made you decide to shift away from that in your career?

Julie:  Well, the fact that about three months into my first job out of college I decided that I hated hotel and restaurant management, that was my first clue.  And it was interesting because, you know, when you’re an undergrad and you’re taking four years in this curriculum and all you’re learning about is you know hotel and restaurant management, hotel and restaurant law, hotel and restaurant marketing, you know 'cause – I had casino management.  I mean, my life was surrounded, and it was Las Vegas, UNLV, so the city revolves around hotels and restaurants. 

So I kind of had tunnel vision and I was thinking, "Well, this is what I've chosen to do, I'm tied to it.  This is gonna be my life."  And I got my first job with Windham Hotels.  They don't tell you where they’re gonna put you when they hire you.  You make no money when you graduate with a hotel and restaurant management degree.  They basically tell you that the first day of school when you’re a freshman.  You sit down and they say, "You're gonna work 100 hours a week and you're gonna make no money.  Welcome to college." 

You know, I should have just you know headed for the door just then, but the idea of it still excited me at that point.  I still had this whole -- there's this show called Hotel on, this drama that was called Hotel like back in the 80's that created a very glamorous picture of what it was like to work in a hotel.  And I think that kind of, in some way, when I got to college I thought I was gonna be like that, you know?  This glamorous Connie Sellecca lady that you know ran the hotel.  So it was a rude awakening when I was like crawling around taping wires to the floor for like a food and beverage banquet, you know?  So anyway I got the job with Windham, they put me in Annapolis, Maryland, which I had – you know great city but I had no friends there.  You didn't really make a lot of friends working in this small hotel in the city and I was just – I was so unhappy. 

I wasn't happy at work, I wasn't happy with what I was doing and this was an instance where my dad came down to Annapolis.  He drove down to Annapolis, took me to lunch and he said, "You know this isn’t right for you.  You need to figure out, you know, and you don't need to do it tomorrow, you don't need to do it the next day but I think you need to figure out what you want to do and make a change and figure out how you’re gonna get there."  So that was like such an "Aha!" moment for me that I could do something else.  You know, my major -- I didn't have to do my major.  So – and that was huge because then I started just kind of looking around and I think kind of opening my mind a little bit.  You know, back then I knew I loved food but I wasn't at all thinking like food career 'cause when I thought food I thought, "Okay restaurant management," so that wasn't clicking.