The view from here…

Seattle from the Columbia Center

Seattle from the Columbia Center

Benjamin explains why he’s sleeping well in Seattle…

I was on the phone last week with Jennifer Johnson, TUI Specialist and Activity resourcing and graduate advisor, saying that I felt a little bashful about broadcasting my placement. She reassured me that it would be beneficial for everyone to know how well my placement was going.

Way back in July, we were given the opportunity to express preferences for our placements in terms of location, division (Marine, PEAK, North American Specialist, Sport, SHG, Sector or Education), and project. We were advised that at least two people would have to be placed in North America from October until January, including the Christmas period. I immediately emailed back, humbly saying that I would make the sacrifice of suffering a North American Christmas (in Florida, please).

In August I got a call. It was Jennifer. She said, “How would you feel about working at TCS & Starquest in Seattle? You’ve been picked out for a specific project there.”


TCS & Starquest is the most profitable brand (per customer) in the North American Specialist Division, and one of the most profitable brands in the entire Sector. They create amazing private jet experiences that literally circumnavigate the globe and they offer sky high levels of customer service.

Getting the Seattle placement certainly made submitting my notice to my boss easier. I’d been dallying over telling him as I was unsure how he would react (think chairs out of windows and coffee mugs through computer monitors). I should explain that I had been acting as ‘Personal Assistant’ to the Managing Director of a small student recruitment company, placing foreign students in UK universities, but what that really meant was streamlining his entire company from top to bottom, from the branding on the door, to the way our consultants picked up the phone. I wrote policy for his entire company, translated the contracts, and hired the staff. Imagine if your right hand came to you and said, “sorry, I’m leaving.”

But sitting him down, after a little discussion about some unrelated HR issues, I said, “So I have to tell you, I’ve been offered a new position. It’s in Seattle.”
Instead of throwing a wild fit, he simply said, “Where?”

After explaining it to him in his native language (he’s not English), and telling him how amazing this opportunity was, he calmly accepted and we discussed how we could best use my last month (and oh my, we really used it).

Skip forward 45 days and I’m stepping off a plane on a rainy afternoon in Seattle, passport in hand, feeling like I’d been awake since the dawn of time. I spent an hour in passport control because the US embassy in London hadn’t written an expiry date on my American visa, but aside from that, things were moving very smoothly. In baggage claim I was met by Karen Ledwin, Business Development manager at TCS & Starquest,  who had very nicely offered to drive me from the airport to where I was going to live in West Seattle.

For a house that I found on Craigslist, I feel I have a very good deal. I live with a High school teacher and her daughter who put up foreign students (and me) full board. I never cook for myself, and there’s always beer in the fridge. And coke.
And Orange Juice. And Half n half. The house sits atop the beautiful West Seattle peninsula which has forest walks and beaches, and is a snappy 30 minute commute to work by bus – faster than driving and more connected than many other suburbs. I have a free unlimited bus pass from TCS & Starquest, and that includes almost all public transport in the city (like the ferry!).

TCS & Starquest don’t mess around when it comes to looking after their staff. I feel like I am rather quickly being fattened up by the constant stream of food in supply. I have been taken out to lunch on a regular basis to some of the best restaurants in town where they try to kill you with amazing food. When I’m not out eating, or being stuffed at home, food invades the office for birthdays and other celebrations, today I suffered through 6 slices of American style pizza, and…



The boys are down 3-2 in the ongoing Tippy Cup competition against the girls. That is all I shall mention about Happy Hour. Apart from that  it’s nearly happy hour.

Aside from this I’ve been up the second tallest building on the West Coast, been in the largest building in the world by volume, and will be spending Christmas in the only place in the world that six-pointed star garnets can be found.

What about my project? I’m going to have to tell you another day. Here’s a picture of me at my desk on the 14th floor instead. When it’s a clear day, you can see the Olympic Mountains.
Ben Cook Seattle

At my desk in Seattle

Categories: Ben Cook | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “The view from here…

  1. Deborah Grieve

    Wow glad to hear you’re having a great time in Seattle. I’m noticing a bit of an American theme here regarding the food (lunching out and in the office, generally being treated like a very important guest!) and the happy hour on Friday afternoons. We also had champagne lunch on Halloween because the sales team had done so well in October!
    Seeing as we unfortunately have to change placements in February, how about we just switch…? (lets keep it on the DL from the others…haha!)

  2. Ah, a sneaky ploy Ms Grieve! However, you forget that placements here in the good old UK mean involvement in things like this weekend’s TUI Sports Day, regular meet ups with the other grads and the potential of ice skating in Brighton for a special Christmas treat!

    Both of your placements do sound incredible though and Happy Hour is definitely something that should be encouraged here too! Not sure I could cope with all the food though.

    Glad to hear you’re both loving it out there. Enjoy! 🙂

  3. kellyroche

    What is Half n half?

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