When people ask me why I study Tourism Management I honestly struggle to give them an answer. How do I explain the enigma that is tourism, whilst encompassing the many different aspects of a course as diverse and unique as my diploma?

Tourism Management takes you on a journey – from learning how special events are run and managerial accounting practices to human resources training and small business entrepreneurship. Yet somehow, it all manages to culminate into one neat package that sets each and every one of us up for success in whatever path of tourism and hospitality we choose.

And so with two months left in my program at Capilano University, I decided to embark upon the much-anticipated Okanagan field trip. Summer was spent working long and hard in my co-op job placement, so I was excited to spend some time catching up with classmates and seeing more of this beautiful province I call home.

As a second/third year field trip, the three-day long excursion was designed to amalgamate our learning over the last few semesters into a neat package of experiences; from the outside it looked like a really great way to spend three days – free food, wine tasting, an amusement park, a stay in a luxury waterfront resort. But the trip provided me with much more that I bargained for.

Real life experience is crucial for anyone wanting to work in tourism. You can learn from textbooks, but getting out there and sampling it for yourself gives you a much deeper understanding of how it all works. Taking part in the Okanagan field trip really opened my eyes to just how useful my education has been, how fabulously well crafted our diploma is, and how perfectly positioned I am to leap into the world of employment in December!

Each and every one of the courses I have taken at Capilano University could be applied at some point during the three-day trip; I was able to see managerial accounting practices at play in Rattlesnake Canyon Amusement Park, human resources training at Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre and marketing techniques at Watermark Beach Resort. It was incredibly gratifying to see these businesses in a new light, to peel back the layers and feel like I was a part of the tourism community. No longer do I just see hotel rooms – I see revenue potential and advertising ideas.

Sure, the bumper cars and the waterslides were fun, but for me the most fulfilling part of this trip was meeting the people ‘in industry’. The guest speakers we got to meet were not only leaders in their field of work, but inspirational too. There is a resounding feeling amongst tourism employees that it is one of the happiest industries to work in, and that is exactly the impression I got from them. These managers, executive directors and business owners talked so passionately about what they do because they believe in the experience, the product or the place. They love their jobs; it’s as simple as that.

So now, thanks to the Okanagan field trip and my astonishing education, when people ask me why I study tourism, I know how to reply – “because I’m passionate about what I do, and it makes me happy.”

Wouldn’t it be great if we all felt that way?

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Learn more about careers in this field at the Tourism and Outdoor Recreation Showcase and Info Night on Thursday, November 27 from 7 to 9 p.m.

Submitted by Jen Dale, student, Tourism Management program