I was nervous when it came to thinking about my student placement; where I would go, who I would work with, and whether or not the experience would be a good one. I was worried I would be shadowing and not participating or be tasked with all the work my supervisor didn’t want to do. Working for Central Counties Tourism (CCT) as a student marketing assistant was anything but those things I was worried about. My placement experience was hands-on and collaborative. I was made to feel involved and that the work I was doing was actually going to be used or implemented somewhere. In the first month, I was already learning things that I hadn’t in the classroom; more specifically how involved tourism organizations like CCT are with their stakeholders and the community. We talked a lot in different classes about the roles of RTO’s, DMO’s, and other municipal organizations and what they do; but to see it in-person and participate in those tasks was an excellent experience. I collaborated with local businesses and other tourism organizations on photoshoots, tours, events, and did interviews. To see the actual tasks involved in an organization that they don’t tell you about in class makes a huge difference; it helps you figure out what you truly want to do and to understand what goes into working for tourism organizations.
I wanted to go into tourism because of all the amazing communities, businesses, and experiences in the world that thrive off it. Tourism businesses are some of the most amazing, and my placement showed me just how many sectors fall under the tourism umbrella. Going out to businesses for photoshoots was probably the best experience I got out of my placement. I had the pleasure of speaking to business owners, hearing their stories, and seeing how tourism affects them. It made me want to work harder on all my other duties and tasks to make sure our biggest stakeholders (the tourism businesses) thrive and are successful. It brought on ideas for new tours, trails, products, and services to attract tourists to these great businesses. My placement at CCT further confirmed that I want to be a part of the tourism industry, if ever there was doubts, and really piqued my interest in working for a similar organization.
I realized during my placement that even if I had found a position where all I did was shadow or the “tedious, boring” work, it’s still experience! So many programs don’t have the opportunity for placement, and it really prepares students for the workforce or industry they’re going into. Placement boosted my confidence in applying for jobs, knowing I am capable and can deliver on tasks, and that my ideas and work will be valued. Learning experiences outside the classroom are so important for students to get their hands into what they’ll actually be doing. I could learn everything possible about tourism, from every expert and book only to work in the field and find that it wasn’t at all as described or imagined. It’s an experience and learning opportunity for the placement provider as well; students provide fresh new ideas, eagerness and motivation, and can keep businesses up-to-date and aware of what going on in the industry and what’s being taught in schools.
For students who are starting their placement journey, no matter what, your placement will be an experience and learning opportunity! Absorb all the information you can, ask questions, put yourself out there, and put the skills you’ve learned in class into action. Your placement company will appreciate it and return the authenticity with interesting and fun tasks, events, and experiences.
For businesses, hiring a student provides staffing flexibility that can help you initiate new projects, complete existing projects or provide relief during peak periods. Think of your student as a future member of your employment team. Many employers hire former co-op and placement students in full-time positions—this translates to lower recruitment and training costs, as well as higher employee retention.
Give a future tourism industry star an opportunity to learn and enhance their skills and check out the available government funding programs to get you started on providing the valuable work experience and career pathways for students.
If you are interested in more employer information for hiring a student for a work placement term or a co-op, contact Kelly Ing at firstname.lastname@example.org
by Brittany McDougall