Okanagan College students follow their passion to careers in tourism
Ema Culberson, having taken a year off after completing high school to work at Silver Star Mountain Resort, was torn between going to school and enjoying another ski season.
“I was a ‘lifty’ at Silver Star, and I loved that experience,” Culberson said. “That’s what made me curious about other opportunities that might be possible in the future, working in the same industry but branching out into areas that seemed just as much fun, like events-planning. A lot of people I know that work in tourism get to travel for work and go to other places, which I think is really appealing as well.”
Culberson found her next steps at Okanagan College, in the Tourism Management (TMD) program, offered at the College’s centre in Revelstoke. TMD was launched in 2018 and designed to be a springboard to help students advance careers in the tourism sector.
Alexi Mostert was finishing her first year of science at UBC Okanagan, where she had begun her studies immediately after graduating from Revelstoke Secondary. As a photographer who is passionate about landscape photography and being outdoors, Mostert found herself missing that part of her life while living in Kelowna. Like Culberson, she also made the decision to try TMD.
“Since being back in Revelstoke I’ve had the opportunity to work as a photographer with several local companies and clubs in the tourism industry. I’ve been interested in tourism marketing so it’s great experience.”
Mostert says the location, the schedule, and the connections the program has to the community gives students the opportunity to work and learn but also enjoy the lifestyle that Revelstoke has to offer.
As part of the Tourism Management program, there is a mandatory co-op placement. Mostert is working in reservations and office administration for Apex rafting— with a side of adventure photography, she hopes.
Culberson, meanwhile, is working at the Revelstoke Visitor Centre. She also lent her support administering surveys to visitors to the community on behalf of Tourism Revelstoke, and in doing so, secured a winter season ski pass.
“I wouldn’t have known about that if it wasn’t for one of our instructors that’s really connected in the community. Being able to afford or have access to skiing is not typical for most students. I feel lucky to be able to do both.”
Both students spoke highly of all the support they’ve been shown by professors, employment advisors in co-op and staff at Okanagan College.
“A real highlight from the program has been the opportunities to meet and hear from leaders in the tourism industry as guest speakers or even field trips into the community. Revelstoke eats sleeps and breathes tourism so it’s really inspiring to have a front row seat to that,” said Culberson.
Mostert agreed adding “We’re definitely not just stuck in a classroom learning theory.”
The next intake of the program in Revelstoke starts on September 6. The program also marks its first intake at the College’s Kelowna campus this September. For more information visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/tmd.
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