Jovel, alumna from the bachelor in hospitality management program, is a published travel writer. In this article, she gives some good advice about what you need to do in order to do the job you love.
Yes, it is rather unconventional for someone with a hotel management background to venture into the world of writing. I have been a travel writer for TripAdvisor for the past year and have produced many travel guides on Singapore and Bangkok for the popular travel website. I am proud to say that should you be thinking of going to Bangkok, you will find my “3 Day Guide to Bangkok” as the biggest featured travel guide on TripAdvisor and this is just one of the few accomplishments that I have achieved with the company.
So going back to the start, it was actually my best friend Isha who introduced me to such an opportunity and recommended me as a suitable candidate for the job – and I cannot thank her enough. Back then, they were not looking for writers for Singapore but I asked for the opportunity to simply write one travel guide to prove myself. I convinced them that I could do a much better job than some of the writers who were expat and non-local. I felt I knew places around my country that they didn’t and I was so insistent and eager to share my knowledge with the rest of the world.
This brings me to lesson one:
Let people know what you’re interested in and never be afraid to be overly passionate about things you enjoy.
So what if people think you’re a major suck-up or over-enthusiastic. Nobody got a bad job from raising their hand too many times. The only way to do this is also to actively grasp opportunities. For example, I like to write, so I volunteered to blog for Les Roches 60th Anniversary, which led people to know about my passion for writing, and hence my position as a student Webzine blogger (yay!) and so on and so forth… you get the picture.
I think that only those who are over the top will be remembered, and one day possibly referred for an opportunity. I’m not saying I’m the only person in Les Roches who likes to write, but just that I’m not passive about it.
If you know and feel you can do something and have a burning sensation inside you to prove yourself, do whatever it takes to get that one chance to show people why you deserve to be where you are.
Finally, they let me write a travel guide on Singapore and it was on a topic I was really familiar with: “Singapore Off the Beaten Track”. So, one thing about me is I am highly adventurous and I love exploring new bars, restaurants and things to do. Now that you know, you can guess I impressed them with my travel guide and this, they made me one of the travel writers in Singapore. BOOM. Afterwards, I simply received more and more projects which in turn increased my rating and reliability as a travel writer. After proving myself, I was allowed to take on not only more projects but countries that I was passionate about such as Bangkok and Chiang Mai.
Ultimately, my experience with TripAdvisor has all in all been great. Returning back to Singapore, I was invited to take part in even more projects with TripAdvisor such as its “Just For You” guides (which just launched, check it out!) which are personally curated based on the interests of each individual user. Additionally, I was also involved in the content curation for the joint campaign called “Your Singapore” between TripAdvisor and the Singapore Tourism Board (STB). In this project, I was invited to generate content on places of interest (POI) in Singapore which would then be featured on the Singapore Tourism Board’s website for visitors and local Singaporeans alike. This project was my favorite as I had the opportunity to visit different cultural sites, bars, restaurants and retail stores to give my reviews. BOOM AGAIN!
Being part of a community of travel writers for such a big company also allowed me to meet up with the guys from TripAdvisor. It also allowed me to meet up with other travel writers from Singapore, which fortunately for me, included one of Singapore’s most influential travel writers (starstruck!). Having lunch with the guys from TripAdvisor allowed me to voice my opinion on how to improve the site and community as a whole and being able to be a voice (even if it were a mere small one) to TripAdvisor, with more than 250 million reviews and opinions from travelers around the world was something that I felt extremely privileged to be a part of.
After I graduated and had some time off in Singapore, I decided to take an internship with TimeOut Magazine in Singapore rather than to work in a hotel. Trust me, I did not sell myself as a writer to TimeOut but I sold the fact that I was ready to jump on any adventure and do whatever it takes to sniff out local happenings, speakeasy bars and any or everything off the beaten track. To be very honest, till this day I am almost 90% sure they took me in because I mentioned a private rooftop party in Singapore that a friend of mine who I had met through another friend (basically, a stranger) had brought me to and none of the writers (although having heard about it) could get an invitation to.
And this brings me to lesson three:
Realise that your urge for wanderlust, adventure and your sheer ballsiness (which is what many Les Roches students possess) is what’s going to get you the job regardless of the industry.
Do not think just because you do hotel management and it’s such a specific degree you are automatically excluded from other fields. I ventured into writing and I learnt to write at TimeOut. I forced myself to learn new words and memorise phrases used in previous issues of TimeOut and I constantly referred to the TimeOut writing guide for inspiration and guidance on style and content.
It is always your passion and personality first and then the skill. Skills and knowledge are things you can learn but you won’t be motivated to do so, in an environment that you don’t enjoy being in.
Currently I am enrolled in an 18-month Marketing and Communications MIT programme with the Rotana Hotel Group called The Accelerated Refinement of Talent (TAROT) in Dubai and the knowledge that I have obtained from my stints with TripAdvisor and TimeOut have more than supported my learning. If anything, I would say in my field at the moment, I have definitely learnt more with the aforementioned companies than working at the Front Office (not saying I didn’t learn anything).
So yes, we are hotel management students and ultimately we all want to be future hospitality leaders and the only way to get there is to fuel the very notable and distinct personality traits that us students at Les Roches have. That of loving adventure, being outgoing and having a love of fun – and you don’t necessarily need to venture into hospitality-related positions to hone these traits.
Now press on, Padawans!
If you want to read more of Jovel Eugenia Mei’s articles, visit the Les Roches blog. If you’re interested in a career in hospitality, visit the Les Roches International School of Hotel Management website.
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