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Introducing Jess O’Connor

Posted on 08/10/2014 by
ITC Staff Photo - Jess

Jess recently joined the ITC Marketing Team

Jess is our new Marketing Executive. You can find her at the City Campus writing all sorts of exciting marketing material or perhaps updating one of ITC’s social media accounts. She tells us how a recent holiday in Ireland inspired her to come back to New Zealand to pursue a career in travel and tourism.

As one of the youngest staff members at ITC, I’m still at the very beginning of my career – and sometimes mistaken as a student!

I graduated from the University of Auckland in 2011 with a Bachelor of Arts in French and English. I was sad to leave uni – I studied subjects I loved so it never felt like hard work. I’m a total bookworm so English was a dream as I got to read a variety of novels every semester. And in French class I had the pleasure of learning a new language.

A highlight of my studies was spending six months in Lyon, France. I attended a local university, lived in a cute little French apartment and ate plenty of pastries. My passion for travel was born! Lyon is still my favourite city in Europe, which may have something to do with it being the food capital of France. It is famous for its bouchons – small restaurants that serve Lyonnaise cuisine such as roast pork and duck pâté.

Jess in Lyon 2010

Me in Lyon, France on university exchange in 2010

Upon returning from France I worked part-time at a French delicatessen called Châteaubriant. This helped me keep the travel bug at bay, as I was able to practise my French and meet people from around the world.

But, alas, a ‘real job’ was calling me away from French food and I took my first 9-5, full-time role at a digital agency called Castleford Media. I was employed as a Content Writer and tasked with producing web content such as news articles and blog posts for a range of businesses. This was a great first job in the sense that it gave me exposure to many different industries. I would write about everything from real estate and insurance to health and education.

After a year at Castleford I was promoted to Assistant Editor, which meant I spent less time writing and more time working directly with people. It was then I realised how much I thrived working in a people-facing role. Writing can be quite isolating at times, as it’s just you, your keyboard and your imagination! I decided I wanted a job with slightly more balance and variety.

By this time, the travel bug was well and truly calling me, so my partner and I decided to try our luck in the UK. We ended up living in London for a year, working and travelling. I revisited Lyon and rekindled my love affair for fresh baguettes and pastries, and saw much of England and Scotland, as well as the bustling European cities of Amsterdam and Berlin.

Cliffs of Moher

The magical Cliffs of Moher in Ireland

However, the highlight of this trip had to be magical Ireland. My grandad filled my childhood with tales of Irish history and mythology, so seeing the country in real life was an amazing experience. It was also in Ireland that I realised I wanted to pursue a career in the travel and tourism industry.

We took a professional tour to the small island of Inishmor, a short ferry ride from Galway. As I was listening to the tour guide speak with such passion and pride about Ireland, I thought about my love for New Zealand and how much I would love to inspire tourists to visit my home country.

Jess Cliffs of Moher

Me in front of the Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

Although London is a fantastic city, it was a little too big and busy for me. I missed the beach and New Zealand’s natural beauty. I loved travelling but I knew in my heart that New Zealand was the place I wanted to spend the majority of my time. So we packed our bags and headed back home, only I had a new goal in mind – to get involved in tourism so I could live and breathe my passion for travel.

When the role of Marketing Executive with ITC came along, I knew I had to apply. I was so chuffed to get a call from Claire offering me the job. It really does feel like a perfect fit. I get to use my writing and marketing skills to encourage people to study a topic I am passionate about. I am also learning so much about New Zealand’s thriving tourism industry, which only reinforces my decision to move home.

The team at ITC has been incredibly welcoming and I feel part of the family already. I also love how there is always talk of travel and adventure; someone is always planning a trip overseas! I can’t wait to see what the next few months will bring. I feel energised and excited about ITC’s potential. Keep an eye out for our social media updates :)

– Jess

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