From TV to Tourism by Siobhán Mc Tague, graduate on a placement with Tourism Ireland

Tell us a few things about yourself.

My name is Siobhán. I’m 25 years old and originally from County Leitrim. I have a passion for politics, Irish language and culture and performing. This has left me best placed to have been accepted into the Ibec Global Graduates programme and with Tourism Ireland. I began working in the Tourism London office, focusing on the GB market in September 2019.

I did my undergraduate degree in DCU in Irish and Media Studies and LOVED it. I stayed on for a year after graduation upon being elected into the position of Vice President on DCU Students’ Union.

I worked in TV production and as a teacher in primary and secondary schools for a year before applying for the programme. I have an extremely varied experience which I think only added to my application.

I used to think that you had to be a business graduate to apply for the Ibec Global Graduates programme. This is certainly not the case. They accept graduates from all disciplines and those who have graduated more than a year ago! Having interpersonal skills, creativity, initiative and some experience in marketing and events will stand to you.

Tell us what a typical day is like for you on your placement?

The Tourism Ireland London office is so homely. The people are what make it that way. The personnel are a mixture of Irish, British, French and Canadian but we all have a love of Ireland in common. I enjoy living in London as its not too far away from home but different enough from Dublin to allow me to spread my wings. The office is right off Oxford Street, which is such a stimulating environment to work in.

My working day now is very different from my working day at the beginning of 2020. I work from the same desk that I did my leaving cert at which is a bit unsettling, but I have thoroughly enjoyed spending the pandemic in Leitrim. I understand how lucky I am to be able to work from here in the luscious green landscape of the country that I am trying to promote on the daily. I can start between 8am and 10and finish between 4pm and 6pm as long as I’ve done seven hours work – I love the flexibility of this.

I have become a lot healthier since working from home. I move around a lot more and either walk, run or do an online exercise class every day. The commute on the bus or on-foot inhaling city fumes has gone. I start my day with a pint of water, the radio on and open set up my work desk for the day. I always get dressed as if I’m going into the office – it’s good for the head!

I work across two teams: brand partnerships and trade and industry. The latter involves connecting the tourism industry at home with the British trade. I get to build relationships with hoteliers and attraction owners in Ireland which I really enjoy and manage these partners in the run up to World Travel Market (the biggest travel trade event in the world). I work at other events including the BMW PGA Championships, the Liverpool Irish Festival and events at the Irish Embassy in London. With brand partnerships we run marketing campaigns with airlines, sea carriers and online travel agencies to encourage British holiday makers to travel to Ireland. I get to write copy on regions in Ireland source imagery to accompany it. There would certain campaigns that I lead on and decide on campaign strategy. It is very important to be able to build and maintain relationships in this role. I also design a monthly ezine that goes out to our database with offers from industry in Ireland.

My typical day in the office would be catching up with the two teams I am on, dealing with partners and their request and sourcing assets for campaigns. I also deal with planning, general administration and financial budgeting. In London I am on reception at least once a week where I greet visitors to the office and answer calls from stakeholders and consumers alike.

What are top tips you would like to share with graduates that wish to apply to this programme?

For your application, make sure you spend time on it. It is not something you can do in one day. Make sure to make your experience relevant. For example, in my first job in my local pub we were sort of the unofficial tourism office for the town so that was really valuable to me.

There are at least two interviews. One with Ibec and one with the company. The first one is quite relaxed; you cannot really prepare for it. They want to get to know you and see if you’re the right fit for the programme. You won’t be asked about the company. For example, I was asked about the difference between sales and marketing and if I had to market one thing, what would it be and how would I do it.

The second interview requires a lot of preparation and cannot be winged. You have to know the company inside out and you must let them know why you want to work for them. You have to know the product (in the case of Tourism Ireland, the product is Ireland) well and how the organisation markets said product. They will ask you competency-based questions and scenario based questions. So get practicing the STAR method: Situation, Task, Action and Result. This is a great way of demonstrating your experience to a panel.

Why would you recommend this graduate programme to other graduates?

1. International Experience
This was the main reason I applied for this programme. Working in a different country as part of a global organisation is invaluable experience. You have to adapt to a whole new culture both in and out of the office.

2. Supportive Environment
The programme is a really great way to transition in the working world. Not as much is expected of you in a graduate role. You have support from your host company, your mentor, Ibec and TU Dublin.

3. Contacts
You are allowed the opportunity to work with colleagues with world class skills and experiences. You can build your network over the course of your placement. Remember that the best jobs aren’t advertised!

4. Postgraduate Diploma
As part of the programme you get to study a part-time postgraduate diploma in Global Business. You then have the option to continue your studies after the programme and complete a full MSc in Business from TU Dublin. It is a challenge trying to juggle work and education.

Memorable moments have been working at events such as the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, the Liverpool Irish Festival, and Ireland Meets the West End where Irish Industry come over to do business with British Trade and then attend a West End show. I loved being part of the organising team for World Travel Market (WTM) , liaising with industry in Ireland and helping design booklets and stands for the event. I was tasked with organising entertainment for a WTM dinner at the Irish Embassy in London. I really enjoy getting an insight into the workings of the Department of Foreign Affairs abroad.

I’ve developed my self-esteem massively. I take note of positive feedback I receive and believe it. I know myself better, my working style and where my strengths (and weaknesses) lie. There isn’t much precedent for being kept on at Tourism Ireland, but you never know! I would want a change of role or market if I was to apply for a position.

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