From Armagh to New York. Cahal McNamee shares with us the opportunities he had during his placement with Tourism Ireland.

Tell us a few things about yourself

My name is Cahal McNamee, 25, from Crossmaglen in county Armagh. I am currently coming to the end of my two year stint on the Ibec Global Graduates programme where I had the opportunity to work with Tourism Ireland in both New York and Dublin. Yes, moving from a small village in Armagh to New York was a bit of a change but we will get to that.

Prior to the Ibec Global Graduates programme I studied at Ulster University Jordanstown where I completed a Bachelors Degree in Marketing. I never really knew what I wanted to do with myself and knew that marketing was a very broad industry which is why it appealed to me so much. Once I graduated from Ulster University I was left with the same question that most graduates in their early twenties have, what do I do now? Do I continue my studies and keep living the student life, do I go travelling or do I go and get a job and put these new skills of mine to use? Luckily for me, that is where the Ibec Global Graduates programme came in.

Tourism Ireland

I have spent my two years on the Ibec Global Graduates programme working with Tourism Ireland.  Tourism Ireland is responsible for marketing the island of Ireland overseas as a leading holiday destination, delivering marketing programmes in over 23 markets across the world.  Their aim is to increase the number of visitors to the island of Ireland, which as you can imagine is a difficult task in the current global pandemic.  Before I started with Tourism Ireland I never truly realised just how huge the tourism sector was and how crucial it is to communities all over the island of Ireland.  Therefore, having the opportunity to work with Tourism Ireland and promote everything that the island of Ireland has to offer as a holiday destination is something that I have thoroughly enjoyed.

My Role

One of the great things about the Ibec Global Graduates Tourism programme is that across the two years you get to work in two different roles, and potentially two different markets, allowing you to gain as much experience and exposure as possible. At first it can be tough leaving a role (and country) that you are just getting used to but in the long run it is definitely beneficial to get that varied experience.

For my first year with Tourism Ireland I worked as the Digital Marketing and Advertising Assistant in the New York office. This role allowed me to get involved in a number of different areas of digital such as social media management, email marketing, consumer website management and analytical reporting. Digital marketing is an area that I see myself working in in the future so to have the opportunity to work on a range of campaigns and gain experience with a global organisation while based in New York was basically a dream. A lot of my work in this role involved working with our creative agency to produce and deliver quality content to our target consumers with the overall aim of enticing these consumers to visit the island of Ireland. I particularly enjoyed managing the Tourism Ireland US Facebook account, one of Tourism Ireland’s largest social channels, as this was where I was able to get creative, planning and producing content to be shared on a daily basis.

For my second year with Tourism Ireland I am working as the Industry Liaison Assistant, originally in the Dublin office but now due to Covid-19 I have retreated back to the countryside of Crossmaglen. For some reason the rent is a bit cheaper here.. This has been a more B2B focused role with my main responsibilities being split into two main areas. One of these areas is industry based which includes B2B social media and website management, organising and hosting webinars, attending industry events and liaising with island of Ireland industry to support them in meeting their business objectives. The second area of this role focuses on luxury travel which is a relatively new focus point for Tourism Ireland. This area has involved working on the development of a range of luxury assets including a new luxury Ireland video, along with organising and attending International Luxury Travel Market one of the biggest luxury events in the world which takes place in Cannes each year. In this role I have had much more contact with industry partners and have been able to work with and build relationships with many of them which is an area that I have enjoyed.

The tourism and hospitality sector has been one of the hardest hit sectors from Covid-19. As this has been an industry facing role it has been difficult to see so many industry partners struggling during these difficult times. Along with working from home, there has been less industry events and opportunities taking place which means that my workload has been effected. However, with this came the opportunity for me to focus on other areas of my role such as website management, which may have been on the back burner for some time. During Covid and working from home I have found that you get from it what you want. If you genuinely want to continue to learn and develop then working from home will not stop you.

Top Tips for future Global Graduates:

My top tips to graduates applying to this programme are:

1. Identify why you are applying:

It is important to know what and why you are applying for a certain role and how it is helping you to get to where you want to be. There is no point in applying to something just for the sake of it, so find a role that you want and put the time into completing the application as best you can. Before applying, try imagining yourself within that role. If this is something that you can see and are happy with then get applying.

2. Continually learn:

Whenever you are in the role it is very easy to simply learn enough just to get by, but it is important to constantly remind yourself of what you want to get out of your time and what skills you might need to develop to help you in the future.

3. Don’t be afraid to fail:

This is probably the most important tip because it will definitely happen at some stage. Don’t be afraid to mess up because there is always a learning to take away from it no matter how big or small. It’s better to get the mistakes out of the way early so you have more time to learn and grow from them.

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