Making connections at the career fair

22 Aug, 2018
photo of career expo at aut

A huge need for skilled staff and a strong interest in AUT students was a repeated refrain from employers at the recent AUT Hospitality, Tourism, Events and Culinary Arts Career Fair.

The 25 organisations participating in the career fair last Wednesday, 15 August, were certainly in the right place to find employees – over 240 students attended the career fair. Organisations ranged from large hotels to tourism adventure tours, business travel agencies and Air NZ.

Hilton HR advisor Lizzie Coughlan, who also studies at AUT, represented Hilton at the fair. She says the Hilton was looking for people wanting to grow their careers.

“We do a lot of internal promotion. I’m an example of that. I started part-time as

a food and beverage attendant, then successfully applied for a part-time HR admin role and after a year in that role I got this HR advisor role.”

A number of AUT graduates turned up at the career fair to represent their organisations. One was Sophie Reason who found out about Air NZ when attending a career fair herself as a student.  She is now employed by Air NZ and delighted to return to AUT to support current students.

A standout feature of the event this year was the number of employers that were also alumni, states Yvonne Wood, School of Hospitality and Tourism hospitality work integrated learning leader & senior lecturer.

"Some of the alumni had coached the students at the Match Ready event and encouraged students to come and talk with them during the fair. This year’s theme would certainly be making connections by closing the circle - students interacting with alumni employers – AUT magic!"

Business travel agency Orbit came to the fair to get exposure to AUT students.  Orbit team leader of operations Ryan Manson says their partner business House of Travel is much better known, yet they have 400 staff members.

“Of the 70 staff in our office – 10 are ex AUT. We also have 3 interns at the moment.”

Haka Educational Tours general manager Eleri Williams was there to offer work experience and careers in tourism.

“There is a huge shortfall of skill sets and numbers in our industry of students pursuing tourism so we are very interested in supporting work placements and roles.”

Haka is a fast growing company with many opportunities, including accommodation as well as tours, she says.

“We are looking for placements across tour operations, so we can tailor the experience to what the individual is wanting.”

Third-year students Jordan Li and Chelsea Guan were keen to find career opportunities to boost their event management studies.

“Next year I want an internship so looking at what companies are offering,” says Jordan.

First-year students Bianca Sa and Liana Reid attended the fair to see what opportunities lay ahead of them.

“We were attracted to tourism because of flight attendant roles, but today has broadened my understanding of what other options are out there,” says Bianca.

The HTECA Career Fair was an amazing event that has grown with greater diversity of employers meeting with students from the School of Hospitality and Tourism, says Yvonne Wood.

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