German Instagrammers’ videos on the Destination Canada site.
Capilano University graduate Jiliane Courteau is amazed by how her life has changed in one year.
Last spring, Courteau was preparing for a summer co-op placement role in Vancouver with Destination Canada. She had landed the role as a component of her Tourism Management Co-operative Education Diploma at Capilano University—after having applied for every available position that looked interesting.
“Especially the jobs I had no experience with,” adds Courteau. “When the posting for Destination Canada came up, it definitely fit those criteria.”
“It was quite a high-level position for a student who is just starting out in the tourism industry—it was quite an achievement,” says Christy Dodds, Capilano University’s Tourism Management co-op program coordinator.
From Vancouver to London
Courteau wore several hats during her summer placement in Destination Canada’s Vancouver marketing department, but for one project, she acted as a liaison between her team and German social media influencers, inviting the popular Instagrammers on familiarization trips.
“I helped with contracts, itineraries, forms, travel documents and was the main face of the team for the Instagrammers throughout their Canadian experience,” says Courteau. She also liaised with provincial destination management organizations to help with itinerary building, and with videographers to help with filming requirements to produce videos for the influencers to promote upon their return to Germany.
When the summer ended, Courteau’s projects were still underway, and she accepted an additional three-month contract. Shortly before that contract ended, she saw a posting for a position at Destination Canada’s London, England office.
Her interview was two weeks later, and three whirlwind weeks after that she was in London to start her new job.
“The work is challenging and interesting, my colleagues are fantastic, and I’m in the perfect spot from which to explore a whole new continent,” says Courteau. “I’m so glad I stuck my neck out and applied for something I wasn’t convinced I was qualified for, and then that I also jumped out of my comfort zone and wound up on the other side of the planet.”
Finding their placement
“The co-op work term is important in that it gives students a taste, sense and idea of what is really required in that particular field,” says Stephanie Wells, co-chair of the School of Tourism Management. “Sometimes students—like Jiliane—say, ‘yes, this is definitely me,’ and they continue on that path. Other times students are like ‘no way, that’s not for me at all,’ and decide to find a different occupation within this field.”
There is a wide breadth of placements to choose from, and tourism industry employers connect with Capilano University in a variety of ways, including the school’s Hire a Co-Op Student page.
In the case of Courteau, Destination Canada’s Anna Blaszczynska was close at hand. As a long-term member of Capilano University’s Tourism Advisory Committee, Destination Canada routinely taps the school for co-op placement candidates.
“We have a committee of real heavy hitters out in the industry that we meet with a couple of times a year,” says Dodds. “They give us guidance on our curriculum and how we are getting our students ready for the workplace.”
Once a year, students are invited to Q&A session with the panel members to get a better sense of what co-op programs will entail and impart.
Another recent program offering is a debriefing session where students share stories and advice over pizza at the end of their co-op experiences.
Courteau’s words of wisdom?
“Apply for everything that seems remotely interesting. I almost didn’t apply for the Destination Canada job, but I am so glad I went for it now; I think I’ve found my corner of the industry,” she says.
And it seems likely that she’ll take her experience to many more corners of the world.
Submitted by Communications & Marketing
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Learn more about Capilano University’s Tourism Management Co-operative Education Diploma at the Tourism and Outdoor Recreation Information Night on Wednesday, May 11, 2016, 7 to 8:30 p.m.
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