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MA sustainable leisure management

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

MA SLM Student Field Experience: Anna Nehm

Since July 2014, I have been working at a tourism company in Vancouver. Here in Vancouver, I am working for a Canadian inbound tour operator that specializes in designing and operating tailor-made travel itineraries nation-wide. The company is fairly new, as it has been established in 2000. It is a privately owned Vancouver based operator, servicing international wholesale and retail clients in over 20 markets. My position is called "Operations Assistant/Quality Assurance" which requires me to work closely with management and members of the sales and reservations team to ensure that the company's customers are serviced in accordance with company policies. Company strategies incorporate client relations, product management, technological innovation, and process effectiveness. Recently, I have worked on an Alaska project as the company is expanding its product range in 2015. It was very exciting as I got to work with our newly added Alaska products and their suppliers. The company also brings in suppliers and DMO's into the office frequently in order to train staff about products and to get firsthand information that can be passed on to the company's clients.

The company's business practices are aligned with my MA degree in Sustainable Leisure Management, as the company is located in the leisure and tourism industry.
The company has been very supportive in regards to my thesis & studies and has been very flexible regarding my working hours. I generally thought it would be very hard to get a professional job this kind because most of the jobs that one can find online ask the candidates to have at least 3+ years of work experience, which students normally do not have. But I believe that there are also companies out there who like to hire students and to support them in their studies - one just has to look out for them closely.

Getting a job in one's field of interest is a great way to put theoretical knowledge into practice. Very often, students do not have the chance to apply their knowledge to the field. This is where such a job, or even an internship, comes in handy.

So far, my experience has been very rewarding. I have had the chance to broaden my knowledge regarding the Canadian tourism industry, and to network with tourism companies, DMO's and suppliers all over Canada. Overall, I am able to gain a good sense of what it is like to work in my field of interest by acquiring practical skills through hands-on experience and by making connections in the field. One of my highlights in 2014 was the Christmas party of Tourism Ontario where I got to meet our suppliers in person. It was a very interesting experience and also a bit overwhelming as it was one of my first events this kind.

I personally would encourage every student to get a job, or internship, in their field of interest as early as possible in order to get a good insight into the industry, to try out your possible future job, and possibly even to secure a job for after graduation.

It has been a bit challenging to balance work and thesis work at the same time but was also worth it. Sometimes it feels like having two jobs at the same time but it has already paid off as I have been offered a permanent position.

-- Anna Nehm
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