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Name: Helen Bradbrook
Years Attended: 2011 – 2013
Currently: Account Manager for a Tour Operator in New Zealand
Subjects Studied at Cardinal Newman: A-Levels in German, Biology and Maths
When Helen Bradbrook started at Cardinal Newman back in 2011, she had no idea that her studies and language skills would take her half-way around the world! She studied, German, Biology and Maths at A-Level, now she is living and working in New Zealand and using her German A-Level skills every day.
I am currently living in Wellington, New Zealand and working as an Account Manager for an inbound tour operator that specialises in the European market, and more specifically, the German-speaking market. We work on the operations side, so we arrange tours, accommodation and activities within New Zealand, which our partners in Europe then sell to their clients.
My day to day life has changed a little since COVID 19. Before, I would go into the office five days a week and work on various aspects of the tours and accounts I manage. This could mean a whole range of things and differs during the year depending on if we are in the season or not. In season, I make tour folders for guides on the road, send out information to suppliers around the country and respond to our partners back in Europe and work on any new requests or bookings. Out of season, I focus on tours 18 months ahead of time and work on securing the suppliers we need, as well as continuing with any new bookings.
Now, however, we all work from home, and although my work is much the same as before, there is currently no international tourism market, so we all only work three days per week. I decided to take the opportunity and use my two extra days a week to do a TEFL (Teach English as a Foreign Language) course. I’d been wanting to do it for years and it was actually after speaking to one of my friends from my German class at College that I signed up. She had just started it and inspired me to do the same. That’s keeping me busy for now and I’m hoping that when I’m qualified, I’ll be able to teach English online and hopefully in the future, around the world.
There are a couple of ‘best parts’ to my job, firstly getting great feedback from my guides and clients who have been on our tours. New Zealand is an incredible place and helping other people discover that, and have unforgettable holidays and experiences here always feels amazing. The other best part of my job is getting to use my German language skills daily. After leaving College, I studied one German module at university, but otherwise had no more teaching. I always managed to meet Germans on different travels around the world, and took the opportunity to practice, and keep it up, by chatting to them. I now find it really rewarding to be able to use the language skills that I gained in school and College in my job.
Normally, the most difficult part of my job is when we get complaints. Feeling like you have made a mistake or let someone down on their dream trip is not a nice feeling. However, with COVID 19 and New Zealand’s strict border closures, we ended up with hundreds of stranded clients, waiting for repatriation flights home. It was horrible to have to cancel tours part way through and tell people that their holiday was over and they had to try and get home as soon as possible. I had clients stuck in Christchurch for weeks and all I could do was send them emails with updates, until the German Government flew them home. It is also just generally a very difficult time for the tourism industry right now, and everyone feels very uncertain about the future.
My advice would be to just take every opportunity that comes your way, during College and after. I certainly did not think I would be working in tourism, in German, in New Zealand when I left College – to be honest, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do! But all the opportunities I took advantage of throughout College, university and beyond, brought me here today. You don’t need to know what you want to do right now, but if you knuckle down and get your grades, you will open all the doors you can for yourself. And remember that you don’t need to do the same thing for the rest of your life either, so even if you choose one thing now, you can change your mind later. I have had nine completely different jobs since I was in College, from being a waitress, to a shellfish farmer, to a divemaster intern, to now, with so much other random stuff in between. I can safely say I have learned something important from every one of my jobs, experiences and set-backs, so embrace every opportunity and gain all the skills you can. And, probably most importantly, don’t compare yourself or your success to others – follow your own path!