A tourism graduate in a world without tourism

Written by Emily Johnson, 24.

There is so much pressure nowadays for recent graduates to get that dream job and pursue a career in the industry in which they studied. Along with this comes the pressure and expectation to settle down into ‘adult life’; buying a house, getting married and having children doesn’t necessarily go to plan the way it did 50 years ago. Having graduated from the University of Surrey a whole year ago I wanted to share my experiences of the past year and show recent graduates that it’s okay to not know what your dream job is and it’s okay to change your plan.

After a week of feeling sorry for myself, the dreaded job hunt began

Although I studied tourism, I graduated not really knowing what kind of job I was looking for. I decided to head to France to do a season on a campsite. This really was the time of my life - working mornings and spending the afternoons learning how to surf and making beach bonfires. This was the perfect ‘break’ from normal life back in the UK to really work out what I wanted to do upon my return. After figuring this out, I secured a job as a travel specialist in meaningful and sustainable travel - a huge interest of mine and another job which I absolutely loved but it was short lived due to Covid-19.

This redundancy left me feeling deflated, similar to how I felt after graduating with no idea what to do. After a week of feeling sorry for myself, the dreaded job hunt began and this led to securing a temporary job at my local Tesco - I really was counting my blessings to obtain a job during a time in which so many others had lost theirs too.

I am so grateful for the experience and to work alongside such hard working people

Although it wasn’t an anticipated career move, the experience gained working on the checkouts, in the warehouse and also as a personal shopper is invaluable. It was challenging starting a job when so many new rules were coming into play - the two metre distance and limited numbers of customers in the store at one time to name a few. Colleagues were stressed and customers were anxious so it did take some time to adjust to new surroundings. To minimise the amount of people in the store, personal shopping shifts became night shifts which was certainly a challenge! I am so grateful for the experience and to work alongside such hard working people. My utmost respect goes to those that do night shifts full time. When my contract came to an end, the job hunt began yet again.

My advice when job hunting is to see what’s out there - don’t apply to any job going. Find a job which you find interesting and that you have the right skills and abilities for. Understandably with no jobs in travel being advertised, hours researching into different industries left me with two job advertisements to apply for. After spending plenty of time on each application I secured an interview with both, leading me to my current role in the NHS. My point is - job applications take time. There is no need to apply for 50 jobs spending little time on the application. Filter through - find those which really suit you and you are suited to. Take the time to polish your application and spend time preparing for the interview. Persistence is key!

Do what you feel is right, don’t cave into pressure

It is heartbreaking that Covid-19 has had such a devastating impact on the global tourism industry. It is expected that one day in the future travel will boom again but sadly it’s going to

be a long time before job opportunities in travel arise. I am unsure whether I will work in travel again and a year ago I would have never predicted I’d be working for the NHS but I am so proud and overjoyed to have found a stable, enjoyable job during a global pandemic.

My story goes to show that not everything goes to plan for new graduates. Not everything is plain sailing - there are highs and lows and all experience in whatever role is valuable. Do what you feel is right, don’t cave into pressure and have patience because even through a global pandemic, everything will work out in the long run!

This contribution was written by Emily Johnson, 24. Visit her profile here to find out more about the voice behind the words.