STUDENTS should get a job in their local Woolworths if they want to learn vital skills before starting a career in travel.
Although university courses can provide good academic skills, aspiring industry professionals have been told doing a degree is not vital to joining the travel trade.
The best skills for the industry involve interacting with customers – something that could be learnt by working in a shop on the high street, according to recruitment experts.
For students who want to become airline cabin crew, for example, but cannot work until they are 18, it is worth taking a job in Woolworths, according to First Choice recruitment resourcing adviser Nikki Chestnutt.
Chestnutt said: “The trolley dollies of the 1980s are gone and more people have experience in the job from working at places such as Woolworths. We look for people with personality and that type of experience.”
Springboard UK development director John Humphreys said: “The first thing you need is people skills. If you cannot manage people, you will not go far in this industry. You can learn those skills on work placements but it doesn’t have to be in travel companies.”
Thomas Cook Oxford branch manager Antonio Fellino, who completed Thomas Cook’s graduate scheme, agreed.
“You learn a lot from a degree – but it isn’t the be all and end all. You also have to get your hands dirty,” he said.
Having a clear plan of where you want to work in the industry also helps, he added.
Newcastle Business School student Danny Waine added: “Doing a sandwich course or working at somewhere such as Woolworths can build confidence.
“If you want to manage people in the future, you should never say no to work experience.”
ANTONIO Fellino, 24, joined Thomas Cook’s graduate management development scheme in 2004 and began his travel career as a holiday rep for the company.
He obtained a BA Honours degree in international business at Manchester Metropolitan University and a Masters degree in marketing and management at Aston Business School.
The Thomas Cook scheme, which ended last August, involved working in different sectors of the business and companies within the group.
He has now been promoted to manager of Thomas Cook’s Oxford branch. “I have moved across the business but I specialise in retail. You have to prove yourself and I wouldn’t have got the Oxford job unless I had met the criteria.”
There are opportunities to move up the ladder, according to Fellino. “The progress is limitless. It’s one of the reasons I joined Thomas Cook. I wake up every morning and enjoy what I’m doing. Everyone I work with loves it.”
Being a rep also gave me a good grounding, he added. “It meant thinking on your feet and dealing with people.”