True North Living » Work » A Degree Program that Boosts Your Career

Laura Burgham

Housekeeping Manager, Westin Hotel

Whether it’s boomers checking off their bucket list or millennials looking for that ‘unique’ experience, one thing is for sure — tourism is big business.

Travelling, which just over a century ago was the privilege of very few, has evolved into a mass obsession with over one billion people travelling the world today. 

Like many countries, Canada’s tourism sector is vital to its economy. Travel is now a $102 billion sector that is larger than agriculture and forestry combined. In fact, 1 out of every 11 jobs in the country is involved with travellers. Yet, no matter how magical a destination is, it’s the people we meet that make our experiences so memorable. 

My favourite part of the job is turning an angry, upset guest into a loyal customer.

Laura Burgham, Westin Hotel

For Laura Burgham, Housekeeping Manager at the Westin Hotel in Ottawa, working in tourism is all about people-pleasing. “My favourite part of the job is turning an angry, upset guest into a loyal customer,” says Burgham. “There’s a certain amount of pride in being able to do that.”

Burgham credits much of her success to Algonquin College’s Bachelor of Hospitality and Tourism Management (Honours) program. The four-year degree program, one of only a few in Canada, provides students with up-to-date industry information as well as hands-on experience, including two paid 500-hour co-op placements. 

The program not only allowed Burgham (and many others) to secure a job before she graduated, but also prepared her perfectly for the world of work. “Many times since graduating,” says Burgham. “I’ve had that ‘aha’ moment; where what I had been taught in class was being put to use on my job.” 

And that is exactly what an education for the real world is designed to do.

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