Laura Bradley’s tourism career started with an internship through the Accor Graduate Management Trainee programme, and from there, it was a “seamless” process moving through the hotel industry until a change of lifestyle brought her to the Milford activities sector.
Q. What qualifications and subjects did you attain at school?
I left school after completing NCEA level 1 and later went on to complete a diploma in Travel, Tourism & Business through New Zealand School of Tourism (formally Sir George Seymour College).
Q. Outline your career path once you left school.
I gained an internship through the Accor Graduate Management Trainee programme. I completed that within 12 months, at the Mercure Resort Queenstown, which led seamlessly to a full-time Assistant Manager position with Hotel St Moritz. I have two children which ultimately led to a lifestyle change, and I moved from the accommodation sector to the activities sector where I became a Logistics Coordinator for Milford Sound Flights.
Q. What have been the highlights for you?
A few highlights have been graduating as Tourism Student of the Year, working across various events throughout my study (Cadbury Carnival, Special Olympics etc.), putting on my Assistant Manager badge for the first time, my first flight into Milford Sound (among MANY familiarisation trips!), and lastly speaking at TRENZ!
Q. What attracted you to the industry and kept you in it?
Tourism is fast-paced, dynamic, culturally rich, and brimming with opportunities to showcase my little bubble in the world. I thrive on solving problems, meeting new people, and talking about New Zealand. I love that any given sector within tourism will equip me with skills that are transferrable to the rest, and I consider tourism a “safe” career path – because people will always want to travel!
Q. What are the challenges for young people?
In my opinion, getting started is the hardest part. Taking that first step into the workplace, on the bottom rung of the ladder, can look daunting. Being told that tourism is a low-paying industry isn’t the most inspiring advice for anyone wanting to get into the thick of it, but I have found that there is no other industry where you can climb up, and in some cases, skip rungs altogether!
Things like lack of experience, not meeting minimum requirements (such as drivers licences, age etc), and needing to move for the job or commit to shift work can be a challenge – the trick is to remember that all of these are temporary, and learning to negotiate will come with time.
Q. Any advice for a school-leaver?
Do your best to gain a drivers licence, if you don’t already have one. In almost any industry, showing that you can be independent is a huge plus. If you are offered an opportunity to volunteer at a community/corporate event, DO IT. There will be nothing more valuable than networking - applying for a job where the employer already knows your face (and your work ethic) will be a bonus. Try to get some work experience, even if it’s basic.
When I’ve interviewed someone, I’m looking at their attitude to colleagues, customers, and work, not necessarily experience that we can give them anyway. Find a mentor - teachers are great for this. Most importantly, build yourself a reputation of being someone that is reliable, consistent, hard-working, and always tries to finish the job.