| From a very young age I knew I wanted to get into the hospitality industry, so I went to college and university for hospitality. All the part-time positions I had throughout high school and college were all in the hospitality industry, which helped me to obtain my first full-time position out of college.
The best advice I could give students who are beginning in the meeting industry would be to have an open mind and be willing to start from the bottom! Learn all you can by taking on various positions within the industry to diversify your expertise in the field. Continue on this path until you find the segment of the industry that you are passionate about.
The best way to separate yourself from your competition is to focus and put yourself out there; get involved in the industry by finding a mentor and volunteering through PCMA and/or various hospitality organizations. Don't be afraid to ask questions and think outside the box. Set professional goals for yourself, and work to achieve those! Be candid; let your bosses and mentors know of your goals in order to help you achieve them. Be willing to work hard and long hours to prove yourself to your organization. Network, network, network! Don’t pass up an opportunity to attend industry luncheons and receptions, and make sure you introduce yourself to other attendees to build your network.
In my line of work, I often stumble upon road blocks in Convention and Visitors Bureau sales, and the best way I obtain new ideas is by attending industry meetings and conventions to learn about new trends and what is happening in the world that affects travel and people meeting. If you are interested in pursuing a sales career, one of the major challenges you will face is competition saturation. I try to go where no one else is going and do something different and unique. Create creative networking opportunities that are interesting enough that attendees would give up their evening or lunch hour to attend.
If you are interested in volunteering or obtaining an internship through Tourism Toronto, email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out the opportunities available.