Tell us about yourself ...
Hello, my name is Thomas Heitzmann, I'm 23 years old. I have been living in Cambodia for one year now.
Tell us about your studies at Excelia...
At Excelia, I did the 3-year Bachelor in Tourism and Hospitality Management. During those three years, I was immediately introduced to the world of tourism, and in the first year, I learned the fundamentals of tourism as well as the fundamentals of Management.
Year 1 also included two internships: I did a 1-month internship in a Holiday Resort and a 3-month internship abroad, which I can honestly say was one of the most memorable experiences of my academic studies. I headed to Cape Town, South Africa. I was an intern in a boutique hotel, where I worked as a Receptionist and as an Assistant on the Travel Desk. My goal was to perfect my English as well as to learn the job of Receptionist working in an international environment.
My second year included a wealth of human experiences, notably my Humacité© project, as well as the academic side of things with my academic expatriation. I had the opportunity to meet so many different people, I learned to really push myself and to gain a better understanding of the world we live in through a humanitarian project carried out in an orphanage in the city of Kathmandu, Nepal.
Following this, I moved on to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam for my academic expatriation. It was so different... an amazing cultural experience, meeting local students, learning about the Asian culture and way of life.
Throughout my three years of study, I was lucky enough to get involved in two things I really enjoy. The first one was working in the association known as Jukebox, which is the School's music group. It was so rewarding... I did projects at School as well as concerts outside of School. As a keen musician, I really enjoyed every minute of it.
The second one was slightly more serious... I was elected as class delegate for all three years of my Bachelor programme. This taught me a lot about self-confidence as well as public speaking.
Why did you choose this programme and this School?
I chose Excelia, and more specifically this Bachelor, because I was looking for a study programme that would satisfy my passion for travelling and discovery, whilst at the same time learning the fundamentals of Management.
I was looking for a programme that would really suit me, in which I would be able to evolve, through group work, projects, challenges, internships and expatriation. When you join Excelia, your field of possibilities is vast and your personal and professional development begins the day you attend your very first lesson in an amphitheatre.
What’s your best memory?
I would say that the best memories were those of everyday life, but if I had to cite one in particular, then I would say it was the day my dad took me to the platform at Lyon Part Dieu station, from where a TGV train took me to Roissy Charles de Gaulle Airport to catch my plane to Cape Town.
It was my first journey alone, far from everything and everyone, and so far away geographically.
The experience was overwhelming and nerve-wracking... I think that's why I still remember it so well today.
How did the experience of being part of a multicultural campus benefit you?
Student life on a multicultural campus such as that of Excelia was a great learning experience for me. The K-Fet is perhaps THE place on campus where you are most likely to hear many different languages around you. The café is not only somewhere to top up your caffeine levels, but is also a great place to meet up and socialise. Quite simply, the multicultural aspect of Excelia was wonderful!
What made your years in La Rochelle so memorable?
What made my years in La Rochelle unforgettable is quite complex and difficult to describe. However, I would say that sharing a flat with the same person for all three years really helped me to settle into life in La Rochelle. What made it all the more special is the fact that La Rochelle is a stunning city, full of hidden treasures and little cobbled streets, it's a truly amazing place to live.
Tell us about what you’re doing now…
After having spent almost a year working for CroisiEurope as an Entertainment Coordinator on their cruise ships, I am now a Travel Expert at SHANTI TRAVEL.
I have been working as an Incoming Travel Agent in Siem Reap, Cambodia for one year now.
As an expert in Cambodia as a tourist destination, and actually living in Cambodia, I am in charge of designing tailor-made travel packages for a predominantly-French clientele who contact us via our website. On a daily basis, I am also responsible for organising and selling these trips.
When my clients arrive, I go to meet them and make sure that their entire stay runs as smoothly as possible.
In what way does your job have an international focus?
My job is very international because, being an expatriate, on a daily basis I have to work with my Cambodian colleagues, as well as many other nationalities. The same is true in my business relationships (B2B Partnerships, for instance), as we have partners in Canada, Germany, Spain, etc.
Does your job involve working with others? Does it involve teamwork
My job is, in a way, very much about relationships.
Teamwork is central to my daily life, working closely with the logistics teams. However, my favourite part is meeting my clients and the relationship I have with them from when they first contact me about designing their trip right up until their last little message... “Thomas, we’re safely on the plane, thank you so much for our wonderful holiday”.
Of the lessons and experiences you had at the School, which ones are useful on a daily basis?
I learned so much during my three years of study on the Bachelor programme, but I would say that the lessons in Experiential and Personal Development (working on your professional identity, etc.), and Relationship Marketing are still very useful to me today.
How did you find your job (following your internship, apprenticeship, etc.)?
I found my job by sending a speculative application directly to the company via their website. After three interviews and a brief preparation before leaving, I found myself on the plane to Siem Reap. I got this job thanks to my experience of travelling during my academic expatriation in Vietnam (three years ago) as well as the travel blog I had been writing
What are your interests outside of work?
Outside of work time, I like to disconnect from the world to refocus on the essential and simple things in life. So, music, motorbike rides through the Cambodian landscape, but also evenings with other expats are really important to me.
What advice would you give to a future student (someone thinking of applying or looking for a change of direction)?
My advice to future students is this: if you are attracted by the world of tourism, if you like challenges on a daily basis, working in a team, living in a community (in an exceptional environment, it must be said...) and pushing yourself to the limit, then the Bachelor in Tourism and Hotel Management is definitely for you. You will of course learn many things about the fundamentals of management but also about tourism, its professions (through lectures and talks from industry professionals), and above all the tourism of tomorrow. Because today this is a really important issue which all future tourism professionals will have to address by providing solutions in terms of innovation, entrepreneurship and ideas.
Ask yourself the following: What can I contribute to the tourism of tomorrow (Sustainable Tourism, etc.)? What excites me on a daily basis? How can I combine the two? And finally, can I imagine my career in the world of tourism? If so, then join Excelia.