How to use your daily commute time to advance your career
Twenty-six minutes. That’s how much time it takes the average U.S. employee to travel to work each day according to the U.S. Census Bureau. But the data gets even scarier: if you consider approximately 139 million workers traveling to and from their places of business, five days per week and 50 weeks per year, Americans spent a total of about 29.6 billion hours commuting in 2014 alone.
Of course, many of us have even longer commutes than the average. In fact, 17 percent have to travel at least 45 minutes to get to their place of work each workday. That’s 90 minutes (or 1.5 hours) there and back – a decidedly valuable chunk of time in a hospitality professional’s busy schedule.
Fortunately, there are activities you can undertake while commuting – whether you’re driving alone, carpooling, or riding a bus, subway or train – that can actually help you make the most of those minutes and get ahead in your career.
Look for your next hospitality job.
One of the best things about the hospitality industry is the ease with which it’s possible for dedicated and motivated workers to climb the professional ladder. Whether you’ve been working at a hotel or restaurant for one year or ten, you can use your commute time to find your next opportunity. All you need is a smartphone or tablet through which you can connect to the Internet.
Enhance your personal brand.
When a potential employer (or even a manager or executive at your current place of work) looks for you online, what do they find? Hopefully your answer includes thoughtful and informative updates, comments, tweets, shares and posts that clearly illustrate who you are, what you do, why you’re passionate about it, and where you want your career to go in the future. Use the commute time you might otherwise spend playing Candy Crush or adding more photos of your cat to Facebook to write a blog post about why you love working in hospitality. Read a few industry-related news pieces and share them on social media. Retweet the insights of industry insiders… you get the picture.
*** It should go without saying, but if you’re driving a vehicle, you need to keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road. However, you can still compose blog posts, tweets and Facebook updates with the use of a dictation app such as Dragon Dictation.
Learn more about your industry.
If you’re going to be able to speak knowledgeably and intelligibly about the hospital industry while building your personal brand online, interviewing with a potential employer, or asking your current manager for a raise or promotion, you’re going to need to spend time learning about the latest news, trends, and where the business is going. Whether you choose to read print or digital industry publications or listen to podcasts, you can use your commute time to further develop your expertise.
Learn to speak a second or even a third language.
Not only do many hospitality jobs give you the opportunity to interact with guests from all over the world, but you’ll find staff from a plethora of diverse countries at many hotels, restaurants, resorts, cruise ships and travel companies. For this reason, hospitality employers prize workers with the ability to speak more than one language fluently. Whether you need to brush up on the Spanish you learned back in high school or want to add French to your repertoire, you can use your commute to do so.
*** Duolingo is a free smartphone app that provides bite-sized lessons in Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Irish and more.