A year in tourism like no other- by Deirdre Cullina, Fáilte Ireland graduate

Tell us a few things about yourself.

Having spent my whole life in Galway, it was impossible to ignore the fact that tourism is the lifeblood of the City and much of the west coast of Ireland. I always loved the buzz of the summer months in Galway when the tourists began to arrive, and the streets would come to life for the season. I think it was this enjoyment of seeing people soaking up the place that I love so much that made me sure from an early stage that I wanted a career in Tourism.

With my sights set on the Tourism industry, I pursued a BA in English and French at NUI Galway as I felt that a foreign language would help me to achieve a more globally focussed career. After completing the BA, I went on to study an MSc in International Marketing at NUI Galway and during my second semester began the process of applying for the Ibec Global Graduates Programme.

Tell us about your role in Fáilte Ireland

I have just completed my first year of placement with Fáilte Ireland’s business tourism team – Meet in Ireland. The Meet in Ireland Team are responsible for promoting Ireland as a world-class destination for meetings, incentives, conferences, events and exhibitions. The team are also responsible for many developmental projects and initiatives that ensure that the business tourism product in Ireland is ready for international delegates.

Prior to the outbreak of Covid-19, I was lucky enough to experience meeting with international buyers face-to-face. I attended a workshop event in Paris hosted by Meet in Ireland and also one of the headline shows in Barcelona. Since the Tourism industry has been turned on its head by the Covid crisis, the role of the Meet in Ireland team has completely shifted to supporting the survival of trade partners in Ireland, and laying the ground for the return of international travel when public health allows.

Since the outbreak, I have been involved in a number of more domestic-focussed projects that are geared towards ensuring that our processes and products are competitive amongst other destinations. These projects, whilst quite different to the ones that I would have been working on pre-Covid, are fantastic experience. It is also a great privilege to be able to play even a very small role in the huge work that Fáilte Ireland has been doing to support the industry across the country.

What attracted you to the Ibec Global Graduates- Tourism Programme?

The Ibec Global Graduates Programme had been on my radar for a number of years, as I knew how difficult it can be to gain entry-level experience in an area that you are interested in, especially straight out of college. I also knew that the Graduate Programme would allow me to gain invaluable exposure to industry networks which would undoubtedly set me up for the career that I knew I wanted. I also figured that the Programme would be an opportunity to discover many other roles within the industry that I would never have seen otherwise. The more I researched, the more I knew it was the perfect programme for me.

What are the benefits and challenges within the Programme?

The biggest benefit of this Programme for me has been the support and friendships that I have gained from my fellow Fáilte Ireland graduates. Being on the Programme has meant that there are always other Graduates from my intake to share all the ‘firsts’ with – from the first day in the office, or the first presentation, to the first international event or the inevitable first mistakes. I have also benefited from a wealth of knowledge and support from the Graduates who were in the intake before me. Their mentorship has been invaluable to me over the past year.

The most obvious challenge that I have faced during my first year of placement has been adapting to working from home. Whilst I hope that next year’s intake of graduates will not face a similar situation, working from home has been an interesting thing to experience so early in my career. This pandemic may change the ways that many companies expect their employees to work, so I know that this experience could benefit me further down the line.

What are top tips you would like to share with future Global Graduates?

Whilst I am still navigating my way through the Programme myself, my top tips for someone starting off on their placement would be to:
1. Trust the process: You will not be expected to know everything there is about your role or your industry from the get-go. As a Graduate, you are there to learn and develop skills, which will take time.
2.  Have confidence in yourself: This is easier said than done. However, through your studies and life experiences you have skills, ideas and opinions that are of value in your role.
3. Put yourself forward for new opportunities: Whilst there are loads of opportunities within your assigned projects, volunteer yourself to get involved in other areas that you are interested in.

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If you would like to apply to a Tourism placement click here  to create your online application!