It’s my last day at BCIT …

Three years ago I found out that LinkBC, the organization I helped build for 10 years, was closing. I was at a complete crossroads: on maternity leave, with a Vancouver-sized mortgage, and a sense I wanted to work in tourism and education but no idea of how to do it.

I took steps towards going back to university to become a high school teacher. I reached out for coffee with friends. I accepted a one-day-per-week contract at the University of the Fraser Valley, knowing there was no way I could get a post-secondary job closer to home.

Then on one of my coffee chats, an old friend from Royal Roads mentioned that BCIT wanted an instructor with a tourism background. She forwarded me the posting and I quickly hopped on the phone to the program head. A month later I was interviewing for the position. It was the most stressful interview of my life, but miraculously, I got the job.

That fall, I returned to the workforce with three jobs: teaching at UFV, wrapping up LinkBC, and teaching at BCIT.

I knew from day one that BCIT was my place. It’s my alma mater. It changed my life and gave me a career in an industry I’m passionate about. And to be walking the halls of SE6 felt right. I was home.

So why is it my last day at BCIT?

That’s an incomplete thought. It’s my last day at BCIT as a temporary instructor. I am thrilled to say that I competed for, and was awarded, a full-time permanent faculty position in the department.

Effective tomorrow, BCIT is officially my gig. I am over the moon grateful and very excited for what’s to come. Thank you to my students, my colleagues, my friends, family, and industry contacts. Your support has been, and will continue to be, greatly appreciated.

The baby bird nerds have flown again!

It’s almost been a year since I started this blog, and back in 2017 the impetus for this Tourism Nerd journey was the Tourism Industry Conference and Winning Pitch provincial finals.

If you’ll recall, I was inspired by my students’ resilience in the face of a loss – their optimism, professionalism, and courage blew me away (you can read that post here).

It hardly feels like a year has passed, but yet again BCIT has taken the stage at the Winning Pitch. Today we sent two teams to the Vancouver, Coast and Mountains regionals. This year’s challenge tasked the teams to come up with a business idea that would increase shoulder season visitation to, and within, the region.

One team pitched an idea for a collaboration with First Nations communities outside of Lilooet to create an immersive cultural tourism adventure, called “Land and Lakes Cultural Adventures”.

The second team pitched a hiking experience in Hope tailored to urban LGBTQ+ travellers and their allies, called “Rainbow Tours”.

What can I say about these students?

It amazes me that they are so willing to take on this extra work, on top of their onerous full-time courseloads  (students at BCIT don’t select their courses, it’s a set intensive program).

I’m stunned by their courage, especially those students who are still afraid of public speaking, because this competition takes place on a massive stage in front of hundreds of people.

I’m warmed by their approach to teamwork in the face of so much stress and adversity. They hold each other up. Each team was backed by students who helped with research, planning, and feedback. The students on stage were the tip of an amazingly talented iceberg.

It almost doesn’t matter what the results were, but of course this is a competition. At the end of the day, BCIT’s Land and Lakes team took first place, with Douglas College coming a close second, and Capilano U in third.

With our first place win in hand, I’ll be off with the Land and Lakes team to attend TIC in Kelowna in March. I can barely wait!

To all the students who competed, from Capilano University, Douglas College, Vancouver Community College, and Canadian Tourism College, we salute you. Thank you for your dedication to tourism and to sustainable industry growth in BC!

BCTIC is a Wrap: the Baby Birds have Flown

This past week I had the honour of taking four of our BCIT tourism marketing management students to the BC Tourism Industry Conference, the premier networking and professional development event for our industry.

Hosted in Victoria, the conference was home to the provincial finals for a case study competition called The Winning Pitch. Sponsored by go2HR, the competition brought together the top teams from the Lower Mainland, the Okanagan, and Vancouver Island.

While the hometown team Royal Roads University took home the gold, my students’ winning attitudes will leave a lasting impression beyond the event. Their poise, passion, and presentation skills wowed a crowd of industry leaders. They now have interviews lined up that will help set them on a successful path after graduation.

Congrats to team #VisittheValley! Cameron, Julia, Nicki, and Austyn are stars to watch. I’ll update as they land internships and start their first jobs in BC’s tourism industry.