A job in tourism sounds like the dream career for the prospective globetrotter. But more often than not tourism jobs can see you sat behind a desk in drizzly England, punching out emails and tussling with temperamental flight booking systems rather than jetting round the world.
So if you crave a taste of the exotic and want to further your career prospects, then taking a job in tourism overseas (or interning abroad) might be the answer. It can also open doors to far more interesting work opportunities back home than simply manning a travel agents on the high street.
Top Seasonal Jobs in Tourism Overseas
Have I piqued your interest? Then listen up. There are only so many types of employment in the travel industry that will absolutely guarantee you get to do your work in another country.
If you're just starting out, think seasonal. Plenty of businesses in this industry have an overwhelming need for new blood every six months (depending on whether they're a summer- or winter-orientated business). Some of the most exciting opportunities include:
- Be a seasonnaire or chalet worker in a ski resort
- Work on a cruise ship
- Help to crew a super yacht
- Become as a holiday rep for a tour operator
- Run campsite kids' clubs in Europe
- Work with kids in an American summer camp
If any of that sounds good, you can find out more about seasonal jobs and advice on how to apply at seasonworkers.com.
One way to work your way up the job ladder in tourism is to land yourself work experience or an internship in the industry.
You can try this back at home by offering your services for free, but why not raise your sights a little higher? Into the distant, sun-drenched horizon for example?
There are a wide variety of work and volunteer placements offering hands-on jobs in tourism. They may not be paid, but they combine unforgettable travel experiences with training and front-line experience which is eye catchingly different, to grab the attention of future employers.
Here are a couple of examples to whet your appetite...
1. Become an Ecuadorian Travel Agent
Aim for the Andes and experience living and working at high altitude in Ecuador’s spectacular capital city. A UNESCO World Heritage site, Quito is an historic beauty with strong indigenous roots situated a spectacular valley flanked by volcanic peaks.
The Leap offers a unique 6-10 week business internship in Quito focussed on travel and tourism with Spanish lessons and a volunteering project on the Galapagos Islands thrown in to boot.
Your responsibilities would encompass a wide range of jobs, including communicating with clients or agents overseas, planning and organising personal and group holidays, booking flights and hostels, and preparing budgets. Phew!
All the while you’ll experience and learn about Ecuador’s diverse tourism attractions from snow-capped mountains to Amazon rainforest and the Galapagos Islands.
2. Help to run a Tanzanian Safari Business
If the African bush is your bag then head for Arusha, Safari capital of the world where The Leap offers an internship with a successful tour operator.
Despite the economic climate, tourism is the fastest growing industry in Tanzania earning the country about 20% of foreign currency. Over the last five years the number of visitors each year has grown from 500,000 annually to over 900,000.
You’ll get hands-on experience of working with both local staff and tourists, as this internship isn’t simply office based. You’ll be taken on familiarisation trips to various safari camps to check facilities, performing meet-and-greet roles with clients and working in a variety of departments, from operations to marketing, observing management practices to better understand jobs in tourism.
There’s also a chance to combine your internship with building schools for local kids, travelling and volunteering on Tanzania’s Indian Ocean Coast. Just because you’ve had a job in tourism, doesn't mean you can’t also enjoy the perks of being a tourist! Zanzibar anyone?
It's Awesome: I Know Because I Did It!
Back in 2003 (my goodness, was it really that long ago?) I embarked on a gap year, part of which was spent carrying out work experience in a remote safari camp on Lake Baringo in Northern Kenya.
I assisted the managers of the safari camp with their daily tasks; liasing with travel companies, taking bookings and allocating rooms (read: tents) then greeting guests on arrival and helping to train local staff in customer care and spoken English.
It was something of a baptism of fire, being plunged in at the deep end with far more responsibility that I would ever be afforded in a similar placement in the UK - which is a very good thing indeed.
I quickly learnt that running a business in the bush was more a matter of crisis management than precision planning, as we lurched from one mini-crisis to the next.
One day a poisonous snake was spotted in the honeymoon suite, the next a broken generator caused the camp’s entire supply of frozen food to slip into salmonella territory. Successfully pitching the concept of ‘traditional cuisine’ night - featuring the chef's special goat meat curry - to a hoard of French tourists expecting filet steak is still one of my finest achievements!
We fought a constant battle against the dry season water levels on the Lake – extending our jetty every few days at one point in order to prevent our diplomat guests wadding through pungent, croc-infested mud to reach the camp.
Maintaining the veneer of luxury over a hotel precariously held together by string and smiles was a challenge, but it was a challenge which has stood me in good stead ever since.
I emerged, blinking from my gap year with a black book of tourism industry contacts as long as my arm, and landed a job with one of the UK’s premier gap year companies soon after (you guessed it, I mean The Leap!).
Is an Internship in Tourism for You?
I hope I've gone some way to convincing you that the opportunities available to the adventurous traveller who doesn't fear hard work can be incredible. Let me know if I have in the comments below!
Photo: © Tierra Travels. Changes made.
on 07 / 07 / 2014