Ellen McManus’ experiences and journey with Waterways Ireland through the Ibec Global Graduates programme.

Tell us a few things about yourself.

Having previously been a student at Queens University Belfast I completed a bachelor’s degree in Geography. However, from growing up in Co. Fermanagh and working at a local tourist attraction from the age of 16 I gained a real love for working in the tourism industry and marketing what Ireland has to offer to the wider public.

I was unsure how I would be able to make the transition into marketing and tourism coming from a geography background. I came across the Ibec Global Graduates programme and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to gain both a qualification and increase my experience within the industry.
I was thrilled to be offered a place on the programme and I have been working as a Marketing Executive in Waterways Ireland now for two years. The programme has given me an invaluable insight into the marketing side of tourism, as well as a Postgraduate degree from TU Dublin in Global Business leadership with the opportunity to extend this onto a Masters’ level qualification after the programme finished.

Tell us about your role in Waterways Ireland.

As part of the Ibec Global Graduates programme I was placed as a Marketing Executive in Waterways Ireland, with my role focusing on the events and education programmes that Waterways Ireland run.
Through the events programme I along with the events team provide support to groups, clubs and associations as they organise events on and along Ireland’s inland waterways. Through doing this we aim to promote increased use of our waterways as a recreational resource and give sponsorship to events which would not be able to go ahead without this funding. I really enjoy working on the events programme as you get to work with event organisers from right across Ireland and witness first-hand the positive effects these events have, not only within the communities where they are based but throughout Ireland as a whole due to increased tourism and revenue.

Through the Waterways Ireland education programme we introduce teachers and students to the seven waterways managed by Waterways Ireland. Exploring their history and the various elements of floating and industrial heritage, nature and engineering found along Ireland’s inland waterways. Throughout my placement I have been involved in organising various educational workshops for schools and working with different facilitators and Waterways Ireland own engineers in order to ensure the workshops are a success and that the schools get the most out of them.
I’ve really enjoyed working on both programmes as it’s given me a great opportunity to network with various stakeholders and facilitators while also increasing my skills which will benefit me greatly throughout my future career.

What attracted you to the Ibec Tourism Graduate Programme?

I was interested in applying for the Ibec Tourism Graduate programme as it is recognised as Ireland’s longest-running and most successful graduate placement programme. Also as a recent graduate who was struggling to determine how I would enter into the marketing sector, the Ibec Tourism Graduate Programme seemed ideal as it gives its graduates an opportunity to gain skills and experience through their placement within a well-established company and also the chance to expand their qualifications with a postgraduate diploma in Global Business Leadership. Throughout the programme there are great opportunities to network both through the course in TU Dublin and within your placement. These links are invaluable, and you can always tap into them throughout your further career!

What were the benefits and challenges within the programme?

The Ibec Tourism Graduate programme is a great platform to begin your career as a recent graduate, gaining high quality experience within a well-established company. Many of my work colleagues have been working within the industry for many years and are always on hand to answer questions and give advice or training on new online programmes. I have also recently been offered a year extension to my contract which is really exciting and also demonstrates how the programme gives its graduates an opportunity to get their foot in the door with an organisation which may not have been possible before being on the programme.
Having to balance between studying and working full time is probably the main challenge within the programme. Even though this has been a challenge at times I feel like it has aided my personal development and improved my organisational skills.

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

My main tips for graduates beginning the programme would be:

1. Have confidence in yourself- you have picked up more skills along the way than you think and you can bring a lot to the team. Don’t be afraid to give your opinion at meetings and share your ideas.
2. Ask questions- if you’re unsure on how certain programmes work or if you just have a general question, don’t be afraid to ask your colleagues. They have all been in the same position as you at the beginning of their careers and I’m sure they’re happy to share any knowledge they have that can help.
3. Network- make use of the networking opportunities that come your way. You never know when you might need to tap into them in the future.
4. Put yourself forward- if you’re interested in a certain project or increasing your knowledge in a certain area let it be known. More than likely your team will be happy that you’re showing interest and get you involved.

I would highly recommend this programme to any recent graduate looking to begin their career and increase their knowledge of the marketing industry. The Ibec Tourism Graduate Programme gives recent graduates opportunities within well established companies which might not be available to them without being involved in the programme.


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