For the second time this year, TDM organized a colloquium. This event centers around alumni and current TDM students. The alumni present their theses and talk about life after graduation. About choices, difficulties and opportunities. As in the beginning of the year, the colloquium was scheduled to take place on the same day of the graduation of the class of 2017 where 75% of the class was to receive their diploma. Since the newly graduates often come from places other than Breda (or even The Netherlands), it’s easier to mix the colloquium, as the graduates are invited to this event as well and some present their thesis.
The morning kicked off with Alumni Chi Nguyen. She shared her stories about life after graduation. How difficult it has been to find a job and how she eventually decided to start her own company. After graduating from pretty intense TDM course, she felt she deserved a break of Netflix and sleep (which, as an alumnus myself, I completely agree). After that well-earned break, the job hunt began. Looking for relevant vacancies at interesting companies that would also be willing to pay for her working visa, as Chi is Vietnamese.
In Vietnam she’d never had to really apply for a job, since they were always offered to her. She was looking for jobs in Amsterdam, which is not an easy feat, considering the tremendous competition. After some time, she received many rejections (if the companies even replied to her application in the first place). At this point she honestly told us she put less and less time in making a good cover letter and even mixing up company names. Talking to her other graduated classmates helped her mentally. She explained she felt better, because she wasn’t the only one struggling to find a job.
As her visa expiration deadline came closer and closer, she decided to change courses and look for other options. She discovered the existence of a start-up visa and gave it a shot. She is now the owner of Empower Tourism Solutions, where she is a consultant on sustainable tourism, helping tourism companies to reach and adhere to international sustainability standards.
After Chi, Timoti Tirta was our next guest speaker. Freshly graduated and received his diploma later that day. He came to talk about his thesis. The title of his thesis is: Tourism Development and Human-Nature Relationship in Understanding Residents’ Perceptions and Attitudes Towards Tourism in Raja Ampat.
He wrote about how Tourism development is inevitable in many places in Indonesia, including Raja Ampat, the fast-growing marine tourism destination in Papua. However, despite its growth, research on Raja Ampat tourism is still lacking. In filling that gap, this thesis aims to understand various perceptions and attitudes which local residents hold toward tourism development. Qualitative research has been done in two villages to provide contexts and complexities of Raja Ampat’s tourism development. This thesis knits various well-established concepts in tourism studies – such as human-nature relationship, tourism development condition, tourism impacts, and tourism participation – and complicates them along with social exchange theory.
There are two major findings. First, the relationship between human and nature has changed over time in Raja Ampat, with tourism plays important part in it. Tourism has reproduced the idea of nature preservation by putting the sea as economic asset. Second, local residents’ perceptions, attitudes, and acceptance toward tourism development are very much influenced by quality of natural resource, people’s skills and economic capital within tourism industry, and opportunities to participate in tourism sector. Finally, this thesis comes up with recommendation which emphasizes the importance of collaboration between local stakeholders in both villages. Innovative working mechanism is the key to ensure that everyone can benefit from tourism development in Raja Ampat.
After Timoti’s presentation, Jeroen Klijs (Lecturer at BUAS) gave a short talk on the TDM Insights magazine that is published regularly. “TDM Insights” is a journal that has discussions and columns on the topic of Tourism Destination Management. The journal is founded by Breda University of Applied Sciences, on behalf of their Master of Arts program in Tourism Destination Management (TDM). It is based on the contributions by TDM alumni, BUAS lecturers and other academics and practitioners who provide academic and practical insights on various topics of interest.
Roman Karin took over and also talked about his thesis and how the entire process went down. Basically giving tips, tricks and what not to do. One of the most important revelations he shared with the current group of students was to have a clear plan on what it is you need to research and, equally important, how to research in your area. He learned this by doing it wrong first. Roman wrote his thesis about Sri Lanka and fell in love with the country. He thought it would be fine to just go and see what would happen. Unfortunately, this was not the case. For Roman this was no problem, because he got to go back for a second time. The second time around he made sure he knew his topic, what information he still needed and how to do the research necessary to get that information. He wrote his thesis alongside his job as program support management.
While talking, it was evident how much love he has for the country. He showed us pictures and talked about the local wildlife and how unique (North) Sri Lanka is. Obviously, this made the current students very excited, since they’re going to Sri Lanka in about two months!
Since Roman graduated in June, he has found a job in Berlin as a Travel Specialist at Tourlane. He advises people on how to best spend their time in a specific destination, based on their preferences.
The students had the chance to listen to three very different stories on working on a thesis and about life after graduation. That time will come soon enough for the students, but first they will travel to South-East Asia for the second phase of the programme! We wish them a pleasant holiday and hope they will get enough rest for phase 2!