When Becky White (BA ’15, MS ’16) returned to her alma mater last week, she came prepared with industry insight and key tips to pass along to the next generation of tourism professionals.
The sales and membership co-ordinator at Niagara Falls Tourism was a guest speaker at Brock’s inaugural Tourism Networking Event, held April 10 in Pond Inlet.
Hosted by the Department of Geography and Tourism Studies, in partnership with Co-op, Careers and Experiential Education, the event offered students the chance to mingle with and learn from industry professionals, several of whom were Brock alumni.
For White, the day was an opportunity to open the eyes of students to the careers that exist within tourism.
“I hope that people will see that tourism isn’t just tour guides and travel agents,” she said. “It is a vibrant and engaging industry.”
The event’s guests and sponsors helped to affirm that sentiment as they spent time speaking with the roughly 30 students in attendance.
Representatives from the City of St. Catharines, the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario, Venture Niagara, Vineland Estates Winery, CERF Niagara, Cycle-Logical Rentals, Destination Ontario Travel Information Centres, the Skylon Tower, Scotiabank Convention Centre, Mortgage Intelligence, and Hostelling International’s Niagara Falls Hostel showed the breadth and scope of the field, in addition to offering a showcase of some of Niagara’s top tourism employers.
Chris Fullerton, Chair of the Department of Geography and Tourism Studies, was pleased to see the event come together so well, and to receive positive feedback from both tourism industry professionals and students.
“Since this was our first time doing this, we really weren’t sure what to expect. But by all accounts, the evening was a great success,” he said.
“Our students got to meet with numerous tourism employers to talk about career opportunities and to get some useful career planning advice, while the employers got to learn a lot more about our programs, our experiential learning opportunities and the broad range of knowledge and skills that our students obtain while studying here at Brock.”
The April 10 event was the first of many that the department hopes to offer.
“For our students, making connections in the industry, learning from alumni and gaining networking experience are important factors for their successful transition into life after university,” said Samantha Morris, the department’s Academic Advisor and Communications Co-ordinator, and one of the evening’s organizers. “We look forward to working with industry partners to continue to develop opportunities to help our students and alumni thrive.”
White’s presentation, “My Life in Ten Minutes,” offered students an example of how their education and on-campus experiences can help them succeed.
She first came to Brock as a mature student studying Tourism and Environment, but then stayed to complete a master’s degree in Sustainability. She also worked as a career assistant and credits the on-campus job with having an enormous impact on her career.
White’s talk was part of a concerted effort on the part of organizers to help students and industry professionals connect the dots between the theory and practice of tourism, one of Niagara’s leading industries.
“We wanted to create an interactive experience for students to engage in meaningful career conversations with industry professionals, and to provide a venue to assist students with their career decision-making,” says Kara Renaud, Supervisor of Career Education.
“The setup of the event gave students a chance to ask their career questions, make connections and leverage the expertise of those who were once students themselves.”