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Mary cruises into a new career

When Mary van Luyn decided to turn her passion for travel into her profession, her travel agent suggested she get a qualification

With her curiosity sparked, she inquired about getting qualified with TAFE Queensland and discovered that she could study a Certificate III in Travel (SIT30216) online.

"Being able to study fully online through the madness of COVID-19, I was able to use my time in lockdown to work towards a new vocation," explained Mary.

"Studying online was easy, and I thoroughly enjoyed it — and completing role plays on Zoom saw my classmates and me beaming in from Townsville, the Gold Coast and Logan via webcam to complete our assessments — it was a lot of fun!"

Once COVID restrictions lifted, Mary's teacher suggested that she transfer to TAFE Queensland's South Bank campus to finish her final three units in person and graduate with some hands-on experience.

"It was wonderful to get on campus, meet people in real life, and use the equipment. I got to learn on an industry-standard computerised reservation and operations system, and I enjoyed constructing normal and promotional airfares units," she said.

During her studies, Mary learned how to give advice on domestic destinations, provide customer service, and give visitor information from a highly-experienced team of industry professionals.

"My teacher combined the hands-on and practical training with the theory and was accessible despite being 1,600 kilometres away. Being from the industry, she was up to date with what was happening in travel and tourism during the pandemic and helped us understand how the industry would rebound."

As a testament to her teacher's industry connections, Mary was encouraged to apply for a role with Brisbane-based tourism operator Clean Cruising for an available position that suited her.

"My teachers have 'been there, done that' and are still in the industry keeping current. So despite being hesitant about applying, I took their advice and went for it. I applied on a Wednesday, had an interview on Monday, and by that evening, I was offered a consultant support position, which felt amazing!"

Mary was confident in the skills she developed at TAFE Queensland to take on the role as an ideal way to enter the industry.

"Because the TAFE course was so thorough and I learned all aspects of travel — sourcing and presenting information and customer service, the legal, workplace health and safety and environmental considerations — I felt confident from day one."

"When I walked through the doors for the first time, I knew this was the industry for me," she explained.

Mary began her new career with Clean Cruising in April of 2022, and thanks to their close relationship with TAFE Queensland, she can continue studying as she works.

"I've since completed my certificate III at TAFE, and now I've graduated, I've enrolled to study the Diploma of Travel and Tourism Management (SIT50116), further setting me up for an amazing career in an industry I'm passionate about."

"Getting a great job and being able to further my education simultaneously – win-win!"

Her advice to anyone thinking about studying?

"What's stopping you? Learning isn't boring when it's something you're passionate about, and you never know where it may take you."

"Definitely put TAFE Queensland at the top of your list. Enrolling is straightforward and you can access amazing resources to help you study. If it worked for me, it could work for you! That's a bit cliché, but it's very true," concluded Mary.