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Could studying a course online lead to an exciting new career?

by Yvette Maurice

Melissa Robinson has a busy life! This supermum has her sights set on a big, international career in tourism. Now she’s studying online and her dreams of working in the travel industry are one step closer to reality!

This mum of four lives in Highton, Victoria, a residential suburb of Geelong. It is bordered by the Barrabool Hills  to the west and Kardinia Creek to the south-east. It’s a beautiful place, so Melissa never had far to look to become inspired by what Australia has to offer as a tourism destination.

Melissa recently started the SIT40207 Certificate IV in Tourism. This could mean a change of career for her, as she explains, “I was looking at doing a job in admin, but never got a job in admin! I wanted to be a speech therapist but I couldn’t find the right course.”

Not to be deterred, Melissa looked at other options for study. “I thought, I’ll do something different,” she says. “I spent a lot of time at the airport with my mother. She has travelled quite a bit around Australia. I got the feel of the airport and I thought, ‘I really love this place!’  The environment was great,” the student explains.

Studying a course online can help you hone your skills

“I thought I might try to find a course in tourism and try to see if I could find a job in the airports!” The Open Colleges course that Melissa chose to study online is a nationally recognised qualification under the SIT07 Tourism, Hospitality and Events Training Package.


Melissa with her partner, left and her mum, right, who inspired her tourism study journey at Open Colleges

The SIT40207 Certificate IV in Tourism is designed to give students the advanced skills they need to find work as a senior operations coordinator, tour operations manager or tourism call centre supervisor. In fact, there are many different options for successful students of this particular course.

“I am up to Study Period 4,” Melissa explains, “…and I am absolutely loving it!”

“What I have learned in the four study periods is how to communicate with people from different cultures, how to work effectively with other people from the business, working with people with disabilities, and bits and pieces like that.”

Melissa also explains one of the subjects she finds most fascinating: “I have also been learning about Australia,” she says, “…and now I’m up to ‘international destinations’ at the moment. It’s quite exciting. I am so interested in learning about the thrill of the tourism industry and how it updates so quickly!”

Tourism in Australia

Tourism is an important industry for the Australian economy. As recently as 2011, the tourism industry represented 2.5% of Australia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at a value of approximately $35 billion to the national economy.

This is equivalent to tourism contributing $94.8 million a day to the Australian economy. Domestic tourism is a significant part of the tourism industry, and was responsible for 73% of the total direct tourism GDP.

How easy is it to change careers?

Many of us want to change careers, find a new career or start our own businesses. Often the problem with study is the inflexible schedules, bookwork and assignments that we have come to associate with learning something new.

Open Colleges has changed all that by providing one of the most flexible and affordable models of study in Australia. Students of Open Colleges can study any one of over 100 courses online, structuring their study around their current commitments.


Melissa’s four adorable kids: her flexible study schedule makes learning easier as Melissa structures her study around her kids’ schedules

Melissa has decided to undertake her studies using the best of both worlds, electing to receive her study materials in hard-copy format, while still submitting some of her work digitally.

“I am book-based,” the student says, “but I upload all my assessments online. I do my assessments on the computer, using Word as I work though my work books.  Then I upload to OpenSpace. It’s easy – I go in and find the course module that I am doing and my order of studies and I just upload it.”

OpenSpace is Open Colleges’ custom-created learning platform where students can connect with other learners, access their trainers, send in assignments and download information.

“I also get feedback from my trainers through OpenSpace,” explains Melissa. “It’s pretty quick. I have used the forum a few times, I have asked questions and asked my trainer things too.”

The forum is a great place to seek out answers to questions that you might be having trouble with; it’s a free space for sharing ideas and knowledge. “I have also tried to contribute to the others students working though the study periods I have already done. I have helped them find the answers – but not give them the answers!”

Melissa’s course will continue on with a work placement. These are regulated activities where Open Colleges’ students do real on-the-job placements at working environments for courses that have a large practical component. The SIT40207 Certificate IV in Tourism contains a work placement of 120 hours which need to be completed in a fully-equipped industry-realistic travel office environment that makes use of the programs used in the tourism industry.

Working with your trainer to gain real job skills

Julie Hayes was the trainer that Melissa looked up to throughout her course and the trainer has spoken in praise of Melissa’s tenacity and enthusiasm:

“Melissa has put 100 per cent effort into her written assessments and into finding a suitable work placement. It’s great to see it paying off for her, she deserves every success. I have spoken to her work placement supervisor, the position sounds very interesting.  I wish Melissa every success in her placement and in this exciting industry”.

“In the next six months I would like to finish my tourism course,” Melissa says. “I have got work experience booked for February next year at Greyhound Australia at the Melbourne Terminal.” Greyhound Australia is the country’s only national coach service and has been operating for over 100 years. Melissa says that finding her work placement with them was a real achievement.

“I rang them and had a chat to the supervisor,” she says. “It has been an easy process. I start in February and if I do one day a week, I’ll finish in November.”

Melissa is kept very busy with four children, “I have to work around them,” she explains, “but I’m hoping to work at my work placement on two days per week so I’m done quickly.”

Julie, Melissa’s trainer is equally pleased with Melissa’s prospects for the future: “I have noticed how dedicated and enthusiastic Melissa has been in her work,” the trainer says, “and her general approach to achieving her tourism qualification. She deserves every success and I am sure that she will make the most of every opportunity in her work placement.”

If you’re interested in taking the next step in your career with a course in tourism, Open Colleges has many to choose from. Tourism could be a choice that offers you a career full of interesting experiences and people. Search courses in tourism here.

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