Chrissy Marks was at a crossroads. She was ready for college, but didn't know what to study or where to go. That's why she took a personality test to determine what kind of education and career she should pursue.
Her hard-working and outgoing social nature created a score that suggested hospitality was the ideal field. A search of colleges with hospitality management programs landed her at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
Over the last 12 years, Ms. Marks has risen faster than a pizza crust through the ranks of the Pizza Hut restaurant chain.
Currently the general manager of a Pizza Hut restaurant in Pittsburgh's South Side neighborhood, Ms. Marks has overseen the opening of two new Pizza Huts and trains other managers in her region. While she has had opportunities for further advancement during her 12 years with the restaurant chain, she is holding steady in her current role as she strives to maintain a balance between professional development and personal fulfillment.
Where did your interest in restaurant managing start?
I was never interested in restaurant management until I took a personality test prior to picking a college. My personality test stated that I would be a great fit for the hospitality industry. As I searched for colleges with a hospitality management program, I found the perfect place for me at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
How is your career unfolding?
I have worked in the restaurant business for 15 years. I worked three years in a deli, as a clerk, during college. After college, I started my 12-year management career with Pizza Hut. Throughout my career in Pizza Hut, many doors have opened, and I have had many opportunities to advance within this company.
What do you enjoy most about your current career and your position?
I enjoy working with my crew and dealing with the customers. To further my career with Pizza Hut, I will have to consider going above store level management, and I am not ready to do that just yet.
What are the most challenging aspects of your job?
Currently my most challenging aspect is to build sales. We have been in business at my current location for three years. I am in an area that has constant tenant turnover because of the colleges. So I am always trying to build sales and find new ways to increase them.
What was your biggest success and your biggest setback?
My greatest success was that I was invited several times to a review board for promotion. I finally decided to go at the end of February 2007 — that may be my biggest setback.
What are some of your personal and/or professional goals for the future?
My personal goals are to have a family and balance my work life. That is the reason I stay at Pizza Hut — I have a flexible work schedule and not a lot of demands put on me.
Do you feel that is important for someone to be passionate about restaurant managing/service in order to be successful in the field?
You have to like your job because it is demanding. You must have the right personality to deal with all the problems. You must not get upset when a customer yells at you or if you have to fire an employee. You must have thick skin.
What do you know now that you wish you knew before you pursued your restaurant management education?
I know about the long hours and working weekends.
How has your education benefited your career?
My education helped me start at a salary position, instead of working my way up the ladder. It has also helped me advance my career at a faster pace then someone without an education.
Does graduating from a prestigious school make a difference in landing a good job?
Not in this industry. Education gives you a bonus in your career. In the restaurant industry, work ethic has a lot of influences.
What types of continuing education requirements should restaurant students expect once they graduate and land a job?
Once you land your job you will have constant training and development in your position. Restaurants are always developing their teams with training, which ensures your professional growth and development.
Describe a typical day of work for you. What exactly do you do? What are your key responsibilities?
I am responsible for all of the banking, food and labor controls and managing the daily business. I'm responsible for delegating duties to my team in order to keep the restaurant clean and product fresh. I am responsible for the training and development of my team as well as all of the junior management team in my area.
On a basic level, what skills does your job as a restaurant manager demand?
My job demands patience and organization. You must be patient when running a restaurant. You must make time to organize your life. You have to have a process in place.
What are some common myths about your profession?
That all managers are miserable — we are not!
What kinds of job tracks are available to graduating restaurant students?
You can work in a hospital, college food service, corporate dining and in the hotels. There are many options for you.
How is the job market now in the industry? How do you think it will be in five years?
The restaurant industry has very high turnover because it is a demanding field. I think that it is one field where you can always find a job in management, whether in five years, 10 years, or more.
What are the best ways to get a job in restaurant managing? How available are internships?
You will find internships more at the resort level. Very few corporate restaurant offer internships; however, it is easy to find a job in this field.
What top challenges face the restaurant managing field over the next decade?
There will not be enough people to fill the positions in this growing industry.
What advice can you give to prospective students thinking about an education and career in restaurant managing?
Decide exactly what you want. Ask yourself theses questions: Do you want to work late nights? Do you want to work weekends and holidays? Do you want to make a lot of money, but work hard to get it? Do you want to have fun at your job?