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How long did you work at BUNAC & in which role?
I started working at BUNAC in 2004 as a Student Marketing Coordinator on the Manchester University campus. My role there was to get the word out to as many of my fellow students as possible about how great BUNAC programmes are! I did that until I graduated, and then after travelling for a little while returned to the UK and worked at the head office for a year as Regional Marketing Coordinator, covering all of South England and Wales. Every day I would travel to a different university, meet up with Student Marketing Coordinators at each campus and give presentations about the various programmes on offer.
Did you do a BUNAC programme? If so, what did you love about it?
Yes – I did BUNAC twice! The first time round I was 20 and did Work America. I’d seen a presentation at my university and thought it sounded awesome, so I signed up! I travelled to Wildwood, New Jersey to work at Moreys Piers, a big beach front amusement park where there were hundreds of seasonal workers. I got that job when Moreys came to Manchester to recruit students for their summer staff, it was really easy. I ended up working as a lifeguard on the waterpark, which sounds so strange because it’s worlds away from anything I’d done before (or even since!) What an experience though, getting to spend a long hot summer outdoors the whole time and meeting people from all over the place.
The second BUNAC programme I did was Work Australia. After the ease of “doing” America, I wanted that similar kind of safety net when I went to Australia by myself. The main attraction was the group flight, which included a 3 day stopover in Hong Kong on the way down to Oz. That was a great “we’re all in this together” kind of weekend, and everyone really bonded and became good friends. When we landed in Sydney about half of the group stayed there, but myself and 3 of the other girls decided we wanted some sunshine so headed to North Queensland to start our adventure. To save some money we volunteered on a cattle farm in the outback for a couple of weeks, but deciding we preferred mixing with backpackers rather than cows, we headed back to the coast do all the touristy things like diving in the Great Barrier Reef, sailing the Whitsundays, camping on Fraser Island… all of which were amazing experiences that I’ll never forget.
Arriving in Brisbane on the Greyhound bus, I felt a good “vibe” from the city and thought that now would be a good time to pause, find a job and save up a few dollars. The other girls carried on further south but I signed up with a temp agency and within a few days I found myself working in the website team at head office a travel agency. I really enjoyed working there and can wholeheartedly say that without landing that job I wouldn’t be where I am now.
When I’d worked at the travel agency for a few months, I decided I had enough money to carry on with my travels. I spent Christmas and New Year in Sydney (best fireworks EVER – must add to your bucket list if you have one!) I then went on through Melbourne, down to Adelaide and there I took the Indian Pacific train to Perth. That was also pretty cool – 3 days of nothing but desert and kangaroos outside the window! When I got to Perth I booked myself on to a week-long safari up the west coast where we swam with dolphins and sharks, camped on a sheep station and met all sorts of weird and wonderful wildlife on the road (those Emu Crossing signs are for real!)
From Perth I took a flight to New Zealand where I passed a good month spending my hard earned Aussie cash on skydiving, glacier hiking and zorbing – so much adventure and so much fun. I loved the whole trip from start to finish.
What is your current role? (And any previous relevant roles?)
I currently work in the Partnerships team at TripAdvisor in London. My job is to grow strategic partnerships with hotel chains in Europe, Middle East and Africa, helping them to collect reviews from their guests and display reviews on their own website via a suite of various technical products we offer.
Prior to this I worked at online travel agencies lastminute.com and Voyage Prive. I don’t think I would have even got an interview at those companies without having the experience of working Flight Centre in Australia.
Which skills did you get by working at BUNAC, which have helped you in your career? Plus any other info you feel is relevant!
Confidence! Stepping into a lecture theatre and talking in front of 200 students for the first time was pretty daunting, but soon it became second nature. Now I give presentations to CEOs and Vice Presidents of some of the world’s largest hotel chains and don’t feel nervous at all about doing it.
I also learned how to “manage” myself when away from home. As Student Marketing Co-Ordinator I could often be away most of the working week, staying in hotels by myself, eating at strange times and not knowing anyone. I developed a sort of “resilience” where I felt that if I can do this, I can do anything! (Learning to drive a van was definitely a part of that too) Now I find myself travelling alone quite frequently for work and it doesn’t faze me at all – in the last 6 months alone I’ve worked in France, Spain, Ireland, Sweden, Norway and South Africa… and wondering where’s next!
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