Travel marketing consultant and entrepreneur, Helena Beard, gave a presentation to events, hospitality, tourism and sport development masters students on her perspective when working with interns and volunteers.
Her company, China Travel Outbound, has welcomed a number of students and graduates onto placements over the past two years, including a third year student from Brighton earlier this year.
She made the point that there are some very simple things that good interns do: they turn up on time and are always reliable, they use their initiative and they check their work before giving it to their manager. But there are also other less obvious things which are extremely important.
Helena said:”It is vital that, when you are learning in a role, you accept feedback from the employer as a gift. You shouldn’t defend your weaknesses, just accept the feedback and decide whether or not you are going to act on it. That part is up to you.
“It is also important to learn how to ask questions. Remember that your manager is busy, so it is important that you are not a distraction. Save up your questions and ask for a short meeting to discuss them at a time convenient to both of you.”
Helena also explained that each company can offer different things to junior staff. Smaller businesses tend to offer a wider variety of work and exposure to different areas of the business, whereas larger companies might offer a big brand name which looks good on a CV. But some smaller companies, especially those operating in niche businesses, can also offer learning in areas which will be of interest to future employers.
China, and doing business with China, is a hot topic which few people understand. China Travel Outbound, specialises in promoting British tourist attractions and businesses to the Chinese tourist and any exposure to this will be interesting to future employers, even if it is just an unusual talking point to discuss at interview or to get your CV noticed amongst hundreds of others.
Previous University of Brighton students have developed their confidence, their telephone skills and their digital marketing skills with the company. They have also developed their ability to work effectively, and happily, in an office environment; a useful skill as it can be a very different place to work compared to other environments students may have had work experiences such as a restaurant or shop.
Helena then presented two current placement opportunities to the students that they may like to apply for. One required a Mandarin speaker, and the other was a more general tourism marketing role.