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Meet graduate Shania Wheatley: Finding success in travel and tourism at every turn

Posted on 09/02/2021 by

Shania Wheatley is a keen traveller and a successful ITC graduate who is currently studying level 5 through Study From Home.

We were fortunate enough to meet Shania Wheatley when she studied with us at ITC on our City Road campus. She studied with us in 2016, and very quickly landed a sought-after spot in Disney’s Cultural Exchange Program following her qualification.

We even interviewed her about her fantastic success back in 2017!

Now, Shania is back in New Zealand, both studying our level 5 course through the Upskill4FREE initiative with Study From Home and working in the industry. We thought it was the perfect time to catch up again!

What have you been up to since we last spoke? 

I’ve done a lot since we last spoke. I went off and completed a Disney internship working as a slide operator at Disney’s Blizzard Beach, and then transferred to merchandise at the emporium in Magic Kingdom.

Once I returned to New Zealand I started working for Air New Zealand for a while before transitioning into a more admin role with Haka Tours which was a fixed term contract.

How did covid-19 impact your career?

In February of 2020 I had signed a contract and was supposed to start my dream job becoming a travel agent. However at this stage Covid had spread from China and had hit all over Europe, so a week before I was supposed to start I lost the job due to the impact of the spread internationally.

It was a very confusing time as no one in New Zealand really understood the virus and no one realised the impact it would have on our country, let alone the world, as it hadn’t even transitioned onto New Zealand soil yet. So at the very beginning I thought I was quite alone.

ITC was great though, when it happened, and I got the email that I had lost this role I called Sarndra straight away and she had a list of roles available which she talked through with me and was ready to put my name forward for. Little did I know, 1 month later our first case arrived in New Zealand.

What is your current job position and how are you finding it?

I have recently moved to Christchurch and I have gained a guest services role with the Chateau On The Park, a Double Tree by Hilton Hotel which is currently a isolation facility. It sounds daunting, but honestly I feel more safe checking in a guest there than I do walking around in the community due to the health and safety and PPE protection protocols they have in place at the hotel.

How did you hear about the Upskill4FREE program and what made you decide to try it?
I actually reached out to the chief executive of ITC Claire Huxley as she posted on Linkedin how ITC has been impacted by Covid, and I just sent her a private message about the praises I had for both Toni and Sarndra and she mentioned it to me and it just went from there.

What are your ultimate career goals?

To this day I have worked for airlines, cruise-lines, entertainment, and at the moment breaking into hospitality so to answer that now I don’t actually know. The tourism industry has so many areas that you can work in.

You really aren’t limited to a certain sector when in the industry. I would love to go back to being a travel agent as I didn’t really even get to start that but right now opportunities are popping up left right and centre. I’m happy where I am now but in a few years you just never really know what doors can open up as with my current role I could go worldwide.

What do you think is next for New Zealand’s tourism industry?

The tourism industry in my opinion struggled the most, but we are also recovering the strongest. The way tourism companies have established new ways to do things and the new roles that have been created show Covid isn’t going to hold us back. Even with the borders closed there are still so many opportunities being created daily by operators.

If I was a student at the moment worried about the future of tourism I’d just want them to remember that a few years ago we were affected by the swine flu and look how we recovered from that. Tourism may be affected with huge global pandemics like this but you won’t see any other industry bounce back like we do.

Use this opportunity while the borders are closed to network! As soon as the borders open up it’s going to be as busy as ever and they will look for the most qualified, but while it’s calm and borders are closed operators are more than happy to train up from the beginning, so use this time to attend events and network with those in the industry.

Personally while I was at ITC I was attending International Travel Summit conferences with industry leaders from around the world, which have been held in Auckland, and also TIA – Tourism Industry Aotearoa – conferences in Rotorua. These allowed me to network and I actually received business cards from senior leaders from different tourism operators telling me to reach out once I had finished my Disney internship, but I didn’t end up needing them as having Disney on the resume opened a lot of doors for me.

 

If you’re interested in studying from home while working like Shania, get in touch with the team to see how our courses can work for you.

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

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