Why did you choose to study tourism and hospitality?
I've always worked in hospitality. I started as a bartender at 18 and loved the high-pressure and fast-paced nature of the industry. From a young age I always wanted to pursue a management role in hospitality but I didn't necessarily want to do all on-the-job training or work my way up the ladder without any formal education. I wanted to learn about the theory behind hospitality and tourism and how these industries drive whole economies around the world. I also wanted to learn as much as I could about management and running a business.
What was the best thing about your course?
My lecturers were all in the industry, so we were really learning from experienced professionals. Some ran small businesses or had managed international hotel chains and major tour operators. Their knowledge and passion went beyond what we could learn in a textbook. My university also organised a lot of guest lecturers.
My time spent on the university’s exchange program was invaluable. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to study in the United States, where I took local tourism and hospitality courses. It was really interesting to get another perspective of the industries. Another highlight was the compulsory work experience program — we had the opportunity to undertake one week of work experience at a major hotel chain and also undertook practical training in hotel reservation systems and in waitressing skills.
What was the worst thing about your course?
Some lecturers were too academically focused and seemed to have lost touch with what the course was really about. From my perspective, tourism and hospitality are hands-on industries and it’s really important that students aren't bogged down with too much theory — especially when all I was dreaming of was managing an airline or a hotel company.
Have you found work in your field?
In my final year of university I was able to secure a position at Virgin Australia and from there I've worked in corporate travel. Recruiters were really impressed that I had formal qualifications in the industry to complement my work experience. I'm currently working in social media looking after accounts for two travel companies.
What advice would you give to students considering studying tourism and hospitality?
Try as many different subjects as possible. I started out focused on hospitality and hotel management but discovered tourism along the way, which is now the industry I work in and absolutely love. I would also suggest working casually in the industry to complement your studies. It's really important to get as much exposure and experience as possible — and, regardless of what people tell you, it’s all about who you know. Many of my classmates obtained references from lecturers and work experience supervisors to help them secure roles they may not have obtained through applying alone.
Will you complete further study?
I would like to eventually undertake an MBA program overseas