Becoming a CEO and travelling the world after graduating from International Tourism Management

RGU alumna Gemma shares her career journey from learning essential skills in her International Tourism Management course to exploring the world in various professional roles within the tourism industry. She also shares tips for students hoping to follow the same path.

Choosing a career path can be a daunting decision, but when I discovered the captivating world of tourism, I knew it was where I belonged. Studying International Tourism Management at RGU was the perfect choice for me. It opened doors to a world of opportunities and fuelled my passion for exploration. In this blog, I want to share my journey, the highlights of my time at RGU, and how my degree has shaped my career in the tourism industry.

Why I chose to study International Tourism Management at RGU

The allure of travel and the desire to bridge cultures and create memorable experiences drew me towards the field of international tourism. RGU’s renowned reputation for its tourism management programme made it an obvious choice. The curriculum offered a perfect blend of theoretical knowledge and practical application, preparing me for the dynamic and ever-evolving tourism industry.

The highlight of my time at RGU

Embarking on the International Tourism Management programme at RGU was a transformative experience. It opened my eyes to the incredible possibilities within the tourism industry. Looking back, one of the most valuable aspects of my time at RGU was the opportunity to connect with inspiring individuals from diverse backgrounds.

Through group projects, seminars, and networking events, I met fellow students who shared a common love for travel and exploration. Collaborating with them not only broadened my horizons but also fostered lifelong friendships. The exchange of ideas and perspectives with classmates and professors was truly enriching, igniting a sense of curiosity and driving my passion for the industry.

University life is not just about academic pursuits; it’s also about fostering a vibrant social life that creates lasting memories. From student clubs and societies to parties, there was always something exciting happening. These social experiences not only provided an escape from the rigors of studying but also offered valuable opportunities to meet new people, celebrate different cultures, and forge lifelong connections.

My career journey to date in the tourism industry

Following my graduation, I embarked on a thrilling career in the tourism industry. I started as Tourism Executive at VisitAberdeenshire where I honed my communication skills and gained hands-on experience in crafting unforgettable travel experiences for clients from across the world to Aberdeen.

From there, I transitioned into a Business Development Executive. I worked closely with local hotels, venues, attractions and associations from across the world to bring their conference to Aberdeen and help them organise their event from start to finish. In 2016, I won the Regional Rising Star Award at the Aberdeen City & Shire Tourism Awards! This was an incredible accolade to receive. From there, I moved onto various events roles within Moray which then led me to my position as Chief Executive at Visit Moray Speyside.

My career highlights

Throughout my career, there have been several memorable highlights that have fuelled my passion for the industry. One such highlight was organising large-scale international tourism conferences, bringing together industry professionals and leaders to discuss various topics and practices. It was a rewarding experience to contribute to meaningful conversations and drive positive change within the industry. 

Another highlight would be having the opportunity to travel around the world through my career and meet like-minded people with the same passion and interests. 

How my degree supported my career

My degree in International Tourism Management played a pivotal role in shaping my career route. It provided me with a solid foundation of knowledge in areas such as destination management, marketing, and sustainable tourism practices. Additionally, the practical modules and industry-focused projects allowed me to develop essential skills, including critical thinking, problem-solving, and effective communication.

The best thing about working in the tourism industry

One of the most incredible aspects of working in the tourism industry is the opportunity to connect people from diverse backgrounds and create lifelong memories. The industry thrives on storytelling, cultural exchange, and the ability to make dreams come true. Witnessing the joy and satisfaction on travellers’ faces is truly rewarding and reinforces my passion for what I do.

Tips for students thinking about working in the tourism industry

  • Embrace curiosity and a thirst for knowledge: The tourism industry is ever-evolving, so staying updated on the latest trends, technological advancements, and sustainability practices is crucial.
  • Gain practical experience: Seek internships, volunteer opportunities, or part-time roles within the industry to gain hands-on experience and build a network of contacts.
  • Cultivate cultural sensitivity: Being open-minded and respectful of diverse cultures is essential in the tourism industry. Embrace cultural differences and learn from them.
  • Develop strong communication skills: Effective communication, both verbal and written, is vital when interacting with clients, colleagues, and industry stakeholders. Hone your interpersonal skills to excel in the industry.

  • Stay passionate and adaptable: The tourism industry is dynamic, and being adaptable to change is key. Maintain your passion for travel and the desire to create unforgettable experiences for others.

Studying International Tourism Management at RGU opened the doors to an exciting career filled with endless possibilities. The knowledge and skills acquired during my time at university continue to support my growth in the ever-evolving tourism industry.

I am grateful for the opportunities I’ve had and the connections I’ve made along the way. For students considering a career in tourism, embrace your passion, seize every opportunity, and embark on a journey that will unlock the world for you.

Gemma Cruickshank

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