Tuesday 16 June 2015
Catching up with BA (hons) Adventure and Outdoor Management graduate Alistair Taylor
Alistair Taylor, a graduate of Solent’s outdoor programme (see BA (Hons) Adventure and Outdoor Management), talks to us about life since graduating from Southampton Solent University.
Twelve months ago I finished university, my dissertation was done and I was free… life was good! Since then my year has been a bit of a whirlwind full of new experiences, new people and a new career. Though it all sounds glamorous and exciting, it didn’t come without hard work and forward thinking!
I wasn’t fortunate enough to get a placement year on my course, but neither was I savvy enough to think I should be getting some sort of experience. So when it came to getting the ball rolling on the job front it didn’t take me long to realize I was on a back burner in the graduate market!
With that being said I was sure on one thing, I loved travel and I knew I wanted to be a part of it in some way. After a couple of months of searching and some horrendous interviews later, I struck some luck and landed myself an internship in London for a start up adventure travel company. Working alongside a handful of entrepreneurs and philanthropists, senior management and investors this offered me some amazing exposure and insight into the world of travel.
In this instance LinkedIn turned out to be my saving grace, after taking a career-building unit in my final year I learnt the importance of networking and building an online presence/portfolio. After contacting the CEO directly through the site I was invited the next day to pay them a visit at their office!
Four months later and I had organized events for the king of Malaysia, attended the world travel market and discovered what I wanted to do. Having dabbled in all areas within the company I ended up excelling in product development, designing new trips around the world in all my favourite destinations, building new relationships with companies in every continent and getting creative with my copy writing skills!
Overall this experience was amazing and it was sad that it came to an end, having said that though I now had industry experience on my CV and a newfound drive that lined me up perfectly for the next opportunity that came my way.
Landing the job
Back in January I saw a product and marketing executive role pop up for BUNAC. BUNAC head up the working holiday division for STA travel and as an independent brand they have been working adventures worldwide for over 50 years. So I knew these guys were definite experts in the field and that this would be an awesome opportunity if I could just get my hands on it.
After reading the job spec I went the extra mile in my application, from writing reports providing evidence of my suitability, to calling the department manager and introducing myself to find out more. I must have been onto something as I got an invite to the interview the next day.
This gave me a week to bring my ‘A’ game, I prepped to the max and produced an awesome portfolio pulling together all of my previous product and marketing experience. Not only did this allow me to answer every question by showing them examples of my work but it also turned out to be the deciding factor to me being successful.
This brings me to today. I’m now a product and marketing executive for BUNAC in STA travel HQ London. My weeks see me organizing marketing campaigns, planning global itineraries, overseeing various accounts and more recently managing my own accounts in the likes of India, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Australia… Happy days!
As a graduate the most important thing is making yourself stand out, for me it was all about gaining experience and even when I had that I still had to get creative about it. Anybody can get experience doing what they want, it’s how you go about getting it which makes the difference and what separates you from the rest.