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Trip down memory lane for Thomas Cook manager

Published: January 31, 2017

Cornwall College St Austell alumni

A local travel agency manager is booking a trip down memory lane by hiring two employees who studied tourism at the same college she qualified from 30 years ago.

Manager of Thomas Cook Travel in St Austell, Paula Hunkin, said she was thrilled to be able to employ Shaun Sellors and Jess Patton, both of whom were top of their classes at Cornwall College St Austell.

“Having completed my own travel and tourism qualifications with St Austell College over 30 years ago, I’ve always been keen to recruit local talent and regularly offer St Austell students work experience in the branch,” Paula said.

“I’m keen to teach all students that great customer service is the key to do well in travel and tourism and in fact, all customer facing jobs.”

Paula did her own work experience in the St Austell branch of Thomas Cook and said she’d “come to realise that after so many years working, many of my customers have now become my friends”.

Jess and Shaun are now on comprehensive training programmes with Thomas Cook at its headquarters in Peterborough, before returning to work at the St Austell branch.

Having completed her Travel & Tourism Diploma, Jess said the course “gave me brilliant insights of the travel business and what might be involved”.

The students graduated top of their class

“All the different areas we covered in class have given me a good knowledge of the industry and also the knowledge of worldwide and UK destinations,” she continued.

“Now that I’m doing a job I love, I would like to develop within the company, it has always been job that I wanted to do and I’m hoping I will be able to progress through Thomas Cook. The best perk of the job is after six months of working for Thomas Cook I will get my first educational visit, which is when I get to go to one of the destinations we promote which could be anywhere in the world.”

Team Lead for Travel & Tourism at Cornwall College St Austell, Michelle Dudley, said that all Travel & Tourism Diploma students have the opportunity to go beyond the minimum course requirements and boost their employability with extra qualifications.

“The first one is an airline cabin crew qualification and the second is a Thomas Cook-sponsored resort representative course, giving the student a guaranteed interview once completed, which is a rare occurrence in the current job market,” she revealed.

“Paula has been supporting Cornwall College students with their training in travel and tourism for 20 years. We’re really proud to show that college education provides lifelong careers and opportunities like this, where former students are now employing newly-qualified students.”

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