After years of working around the clock in the hospitality sector, Vicky Verschaeren decided that she wanted to focus her skills on a new career path and enrolled in Melbourne Polytechnic’s Advanced Diploma of Tourism.
Vicky travelled for 14 years, moving interstate and internationally, working in all facets of the hospitality industry, at all hours, when she decided it was time for a change.
‘I got to the point where I wanted my life back! I moved to Melbourne and tried to get office jobs, but didn’t have any official experience, because I’d worked solely in hospitality. I’d even been a restaurant manager but it wasn’t enough.”
She realised that her work and travels had always revolved around the tourism sector and thought that she might enjoy studying the Advanced Diploma of Tourism.
“I originally wanted to study events but after chatting with the course coordinator about why I was doing the course and my background, we decided that tourism was a better fit, especially as I wanted to move away from working odd hours.”
Having not studied since high school, Vicky admits that it took a while to acclimatise.
“It took a while to get back into study, getting my brain functioning again and sitting still, especially coming from hospitality where you’re walking for 14 hours a day. Luckily I found the first term super easy because I had so much experience already.”
Finding her feet in a new industry was made easier by the help of passionate teachers. They encouraged Vicky to attend industry events, apply for a study grant, travel overseas on an Melbourne Polytechnic study tour, and even hooked her up with her current job.
“We’re really lucky, we have tourism teachers who are passionate about the industry! They really make the effort to organise out of school events to get you involved in the industry, rather than just learning the technical stuff.”
“In the first semester, we got introduced to the Young Tourism Network (YTN) and invited to one of their events. Then we went to other events and got introduced to more people. Even when you’re shy, some of your teachers are at YTN events and they’ll make sure you meet other people.”
Vicky also had the opportunity to develop a real-life tourism product in her marketing and product development subject, by designing corporate packages for the Victorian Roller Derby League (VRDL) punters.
“Our league got a request from someone wanting to know if we did groups and at the same time, I was studying marketing and product development and had to come up with a product. It seemed like a win-win situation and I decided to do both.”
A group of Melbourne Polytechnic teachers attended a VRDL bout as a trial and completed surveys to help Vicky develop it into something useful and viable for the future.
Other opportunities have led Vicky to strengthen her skills and knowledge in the tourism sector; like being awarded a study grant, which she then put towards travelling to China for two weeks on an Melbourne Polytechnic study tour.
“My class travelled to Shanghai and gave a presentation on Melbourne to a school outside of the city; their students then gave us a presentation on Shanghai. We also visited a travel agency and major hotels to see how the tourism industry operated in China.”
Vicky’s teachers even helped her to get a job with Best Of Victoria, a travel consultancy booking agency in Federation Square, along with helping a few of her fellow classmates with their employment too.
“Now that I’m in the industry a little bit, I’m really getting an idea of the jobs that are out there. There are so many jobs. You could be doing the same job, but in wholesale or retail, which is a completely different setting.”
“In this job, you meet so many people and you get to go on lots of famils, which is awesome because I actually get to see Melbourne and look at all the attractions!”
Her advice to prospective students is to “come in with an open mind.”
Advanced Diploma of Tourism