Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A Little Career Change

A few of you now know that I've decided to make a bit of a move in my working life. The last time I quit a job on this continent was to move to the other side of the world; that's not happening this time around and probably to the delight of my family.

I was in the United States for a visit from Korea exactly 2 years ago. While I was here, I did a little bit of a job search around Nashville just to get an idea of the kinds of jobs that could be available when Al and I moved back a year later. I ran across a posting for an International Student Advisor for ELS Education Services at Middle Tennessee State University. It sounded right up my alley but of course I couldn't apply because I had a one-way ticket back to Korea for another year. I bookmarked it and forgot about it.

Once we moved back last May and I was on a very serious job search, I pulled up that bookmark to see if it was open; it wasn't. I vowed to keep an eye on it.

If you aren't familiar with what I do currently, I work in wholesale group travel. I'm the travel agent's travel agent. Say you go to a travel agent for your destination wedding, that travel agent calls me to get wholesale rates and book with me. I then do every single thing for that agent at their beck and call. And I mean "call" literally. I sit and stare at a computer screen and answer phones all day long. And groups are a different ballgame all together. They are always changing. A file could sit on my desk for a year with the agent calling twice a week the entire year changing dates, adding rooms, reducing rooms, "Mr. Smith wants the Ocean View now". I don't just change those wham bam in a system either. Every single change requires contacting the hotel or airline and waiting on responses and then updating systems and invoices and a myriad of other things. Now multiply that file many times over. Right now I have about 20 files like that. The other part of my job is Sales. It's technically a sales position, only I'm selling fun stuff like travel. Part (or most) of a sales job is meeting numbers. So on top of all the daily, endless, tiresome, maintenance that comes with my files, I have to meet sales targets. It's a bit stressful.

If you know me at all, you might've guessed this doesn't exactly sound like "me". The travel industry itself, sure, but I'm more of a people person, not a stare-at-a-computer person. Honestly, I LOVE the travel industry. I love being in it, I love everything about it. I love my company, it's a riot. But I just got to a point to where I couldn't picture myself in this role long term. I feel like I would kill it as a regular agent, actually meeting with the travellers and booking their trips, but wholesale is just very hard and quite frankly, ungratifying to me. I'm sure there are tons of people who love to watch their sales numbers rise and it seriously turns their crank to hit targets and all that, but I don't think I'm one of them. I want to actually help people and be involved. Which finally brings me to my new job...

I've been keeping a much closer eye on this International Student Advisor position within the last few months, checking it periodically. Two weekends ago, I checked as I normally do not expecting it to be open and there it was. I knew I had to apply and I did. I got an immediate interview and an offer within the week. I am so excited!!

My last day with GOGO is next week and I start at ELS the week after. I can't express how excited I am to make this move into a position where I feel like I'll matter and be a help to someone. I will be helping the students with their housing, directing them to lawyers and doctors, planning events and mixers to get them interacting with the American students and even accompanying them on occasional trips to nearby cities. Did I mentioned I'm excited? I'm scared to death too, but only because it's new and unknown, just like like with anything.

I'm really sad to be leaving the travel business, but not sad to be leaving my actual position. I've thought about signing up with an agency and doing travel part time once I get settled in here. I like the perks that come along with being an agent and it's really hard to give up. Not to mention my convention in Cancun next month. Bummer.

That was quite a long drawn out update on my life, but I haven't written on here in so long I got carried away. My bad!

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