For those interesting in working in the tourism industry, an internship is an exciting chance to gain real-world work experience and possibly a chance to travel to and live temporarily in a new location. Like any other industry, it is extremely helpful to get internship experience before applying for a full-time job after you graduate from college. Keep in mind a few specific factors as you seek out the tourism internship that best fits your career goals.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Passport (may be needed)
- Visa (may be needed)
Look for tourism internships at local businesses or hotels if possible. Though the opportunity to travel as part of a tourism internship may be attractive, it is much more cost-effective for both you and the business to work within your own community. A potential employer may prefer to hire someone who lives in the area and will not require housing or any other additional travel expenses supplied by the company.
Volunteer at local businesses related to tourism to gain experience and build your resume. Though you are generally not paid for this type of work, it is a good way to get your foot in the door and form professional relationships that may ultimately lead to an internship or full-time position, especially when an employer is able to get an idea of the type of employee you would be without having to make a financial commitment to you. Businesses related to tourism may include hotels, local tourist attractions such as landmarks and historic monuments, amusement parks and vacation resorts.
Include any school-related activities in which you have participated on your application. If your college offers a degree program related to tourism, it is likely that there is at least one club or organization related to the industry that you could join. Study-abroad coursework may be considered relevant experience, especially if you are applying for an international tourism internship.
Apply as early as possible for all tourism internships, especially if it will require international travel. In this case, you will need a valid US passport and may need to acquire a work visa to be employed in another country. It can take up to 12 weeks to receive a US passport if you choose not to use an expedited service, and travel visas can take 3 months or more to process after you get your passport.
Join a respected tourism organization, such as the Travel and Tourism Research Association (see Resources below). Not only will this give you access to industry-specific career listings, but it will also provide you with the opportunity to develop sound contacts in the tourism field that may be beneficial to you as you apply for internships.
Tips and warnings
- A tourism internship is a good way to learn a new language by immersing yourself in the culture of the country in which you intern. Many internship programs include, and often require, intensive language classes as preparation for the position.
- Find out whether a housing allowance is included as part of any tourism internship requiring travel. Often, housing is supplied by the hotel or other tourism business for interns during the period of the internship. This housing is usually dormitory-style and may require that you live with a roommate whom you do not know.
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