As the 2011 graduate scheme comes to an end, Laura looks back over her 18 months on the programme.
18 months ago, I embarked on a journey. I didn’t know where it would take me, what I’d do or where I’d end up.
18 months on, I’ve spent 9 months living in North America, travelled nearly 32,000 miles and been to 13 Olympic events. As it all comes to an end, here are my top lessons learned on the TUI Travel Specialist & Activity Graduate Scheme…
1) Dress code matters.
I walked into my first day of my first placement dressed in a pencil skirt, blouse and heels. Everyone else in my office was wearing jeans and hoodies. Quite the faux pas. As much as I liked to dress smartly for work, dressing so differently to everyone else only served to exacerbate an already alien situation, where I’d ‘come in from TUI’ and some people believed I was there to ‘spy’ on them.
Needless to say, my wardrobe changed for the rest of that placement!
2) Business need comes before personal need.
Coming onto the scheme, I wanted to learn as much as possible and to prove myself in every placement. So when, in placement 3, I was tasked with boosting the number of passengers travelling to Kenya, I did everything I could to make that happen. But while my efforts focused on the struggling country, my colleagues were struggling to keep their destinations profitable too. Had I focused more on the overall business need, I might have made better use of my time.
3) Personal need comes before business need.
As much as the opposite is true, personal need also comes before business need in some circumstances. The grad scheme before one of them. My placement 2 was a perfect example of this. Working with the Finance Director at Quark Expeditions, I had projects that needed to be completed but I also had a strong desire to learn about finance. I communicated this to my manager from the start and as such received lots of on the job and more classroom style learning which really helped me.
4) Networks are valuable (and really nice to have!).
We talk a lot about networking in business. People carry business cards around, they scan every room they walk into for the most notable person to speak to, they maintain their LinkedIn accounts with pride. We meet so many people in our day to day work and yes, it is important to try to keep in touch. But more than that, I believe our working life is what we make it and when we spent 8 hours a day with people, networking is about far more than business cards. Be friendly, make friends, show real interest in people and the rest will fall into place.
5) You can’t change the world in 3 months. But you can try.
We’ve always known that 3 months is a really short amount of time when you’re trying to prove yourself and achieve what the business needs – and more. You can’t expect to be able to do everything you could possibly want to in that time. But I’m also a firm believer that time shouldn’t hold you back either. By striving to achieve as much as possible in 3 months, we make intelligent decisions to manage our workload and the expectations of those around you. Take my placement 5 in Seattle; it took 8 weeks to take a website from conceptualisation to launch and I still had time to create a full marketing plan and offline campaign, plus a range of other tasks around the business. Not bad for 3 months…
For me, the 31st May marks the end of my TUI journey. I look back with fondness and gratitude over the last 18 months and wish everyone I’ve met along the way the very best for the future.
Here’s a selection of my photos from my time at TUI: