With fewer graduate jobs available this year and employers urging graduates to widen the net in their search for jobs, leading travel companies Thomson and First Choice are encouraging graduates to apply as Overseas Holiday Advisors for summer 2009.
Working overseas for a tour operator is not only a fun way to spend a summer in the sun helping customers to get the most out of their summer holidays, it provides excellent experience for whatever is to come and can lead to exciting career prospects within the travel industry. Reality TV programmes have given a misleading view of what a rep’s role is and the impression that it is only for people looking for a good time rather than a highflying career. In fact, the role of a rep is demanding and involves living outside your comfort zone, having to get on with a wide range of people, making presentations and being able to manage your time and organise yourself effectively.
Many of the senior managers at Thomson and First Choice started out as holiday reps before then transferring to head office and working their way up the corporate career ladder. Former reps include the Head of Overseas Operations, the PR Manager and the Senior Innovation Manager proving that a background in overseas is useful in then achieving a wide range of jobs.
Graduate roles in the city have dropped by 28% so the days of students walking out of University with a good degree and into the career of their dreams, are over. A recent survey of graduate recruiters, conducted by the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR), found that two thirds advised graduates to take on temporary paid work as a desirable alternative to a permanent graduate job. Temporary employment is seen by employers as a more favourable option than taking a year out or going on to further study as it enables graduates to acquire transferable skills for whatever employment they then choose to go into. Carl Gilleard, the chief executive of the AGR says “Students need to approach the end of their time at university with a much more flexible approach.” He advises students “If you graduate in 2009 and don’t get your perfect job you might do better in 2010 if you use your time wisely.”
Ian Chapman, Head of Overseas Operations for Thomson and First Choice says “I absolutely loved being a rep, it was hard work with early starts and at times challenging situations to deal with, but I liked the fact that every day was different and that I got to meet so many people. The skills I learnt during that time such as thinking on my feet, developing my people skills and improving my public speaking technique, have definitely helped me in my career. When employing people now I always look to see whether they have had overseas experience as it generally means that they have a great can-do attitude, backed-up by a bank of good skills that are attractive to employers.”