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Catching up with Shania Wheatley: A Covid whirlwind with a happy ending

Posted on 25/05/2022 by

Graduate Shania has had a whirlwind few years, all with a fantastic happy ending!

ITC graduate Shania Wheatley has had an incredible journey.

We first interviewed her in 2017 when she landed a job on a cruise ship and lined another up to work at Disney. But so much changed just a couple of years later that we interviewed her again, and found her back in NZ working in an isolation facility.

Now in the wake of Covid, Shania has made another big move – and a big lifestyle change! Her journey is truly a whirlwind, but it has a happy ending.

Here it is in her own words.

On her time working at a Covid quarantine hotel

I was so excited about Chateau even though it was a quarantine hotel!! What a memory!

It was rough working there with all the rules then Omicron entering NZ and developing etc. I am yet to get Covid – a forever ending game of tag!

I left Chateau due to the pressure and isolation I felt from being face to face with Covid every day. At the start I felt super safe, but as variants became apparent and rules changed, my family and friends didn’t want to see me due to the risk. So I started to feel that pressure to make sure I didn’t bring it into the community.

On finding a new job

I then saw a travel agency was hiring for a casual call centre contract, booking vaccinations, answering questions for the general public and doing health assessments on those who call with Covid, and putting them through to clinicians for medical advice.

I saw that role advertised on Seek and I wasn’t going to apply, but did screenshot it on my phone so I had a copy of the advert and contact details. A week later the advert had disappeared from Seek but I thought I’d shoot my shot and send an email anyway. I did and I was offered a full-time hours casual contract that basically had no end date due to Covid not having an end date.

At the same time as applying for that role, the same travel agency was also hiring for a Domestic travel consultant – they wanted someone experienced but I applied anyway with no luck (this was in July 2021).

During my time with Healthline/ the Covid vaccination line, I was offered a promotion to supervisor. I made it known that I wanted to impress my managers as they were high up in the travel industry, and sometimes it’s who you know not what you know. So the more connections I was able to build the more chance I had at coming out the other side with a possible agency role.

Anyway, I got a promotion and became a supervisor in-charge of a group of six, where I did quality reviews of their calls, provided training and feedback and also was there to support them with some tricky calls.

On an unexpected surprise

Then out of the blue the travel agency manager – the one who I had emailed in July 2021 for a domestic travel consultant role – offered me an informal interview for potential opportunities she had coming up in the company. She had either remembered my name or seen my work though Healthline as she managed that too.

So I met with her and the direct manager for the groups and events department, as they had a position available for a Groups and Events Consultant. The next day I received an email saying I had got the job!

It was perfect timing as our contract with Healthline and the Ministry of Health was ending April 30th, and the start date for this new role was May 2nd.

On what she learned from the whole experience

Some things I learned from this experience have been:

  1. Of course depends on the situation, but always make it known known if you want to gain the attention of a certain company/person in the industry. You never know what connection your manager, tutors or friends have.
  2. It can be who you know, not what you know.
  3. Work hard, you never know who’s watching.
  4. Everything happens for a reason!!

On finding the silver lining to the Covid cloud

I know Covid has badly effected so many people. However Covid is probably the best thing that could have happened to me.

I was diagnosed with a heart condition I was born with, which had been effecting my everyday life. I was able to have the surgery to fix it without it effecting any work. I moved to Christchurch, lost 50kg, and had the opportunity to rebrand myself – I had connections in Auckland but building those here in the South Island has changed the game to get to where I am now.

For recent tourism graduates – YOUR TIME IS NOW! before Covid, companies wanted people with experience, but now they know that if they are going to get people it’s going to be beginners, and they will train them from the ground up so it’s the most amazing time to be in tourism!

I’ve always said tourism was the first to be effected but will also be the first to recover!

On getting a leg up in tourism with qualifications

As Shania points out, your connections in the travel and tourism industry can make a huge difference to your job prospects!

That’s why ITC takes pride in continuously building and using our industry contacts and partnerships to give an abundance of opportunities to our graduates. It’s hard to beat having industry recognised qualifications that can get you a foot in the door with countless industry employers around New Zealand and the world.

 Get in touch with our friendly team to learn more about our courses and where they can take you.

 Study From Home – college@itc.co.nz 0800 TOURISM (0800 868747) or https://www.studyfromhome.co.nz/contact-us/

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