In the autumn of 2016, Jessica Simpson was casting around for a role in Auckland’s tourism industry. She had recently returned from an exciting year of adventure spent roaming around discovering the sights, history, and cultures of Europe, and the rich experience gave her an idea for a career back home.
Jessica applied for and landed a front of house position at Auckland’s popular Maritime Museum, just in time to get on board with a ServiceIQ Tourism on-job qualification programme.
Having an employer who was prepared to train her was just the ticket for the bright 23 year-old gifted with common sense, curiousity, a willingness to learn and a natural flair for getting along with people.
Jessica says that although she’d completed a couple of years towards a Bachelor of Arts Degree, university hadn’t been as fulfilling as she’d wanted.
“University doesn’t work for everyone, and it didn’t work for me. At the museum, it’s great to have an opportunity to better yourself on the job where you can gain the skills and formal qualifications. Completing the programme is an achievement and something you can always take with you. It’s great to have that endorsement on my CV.”
After three months at the museum, she was made a bookings co-ordinator and public events assistant.
The New Zealand Maritime Museum’s offer to visitors for every age is huge; ranging from the highly popular education programmes, permanent collections and new exhibitions, to trips on the harbour aboard one of the museum’s three vessels – an elegant tall ship, a steam launch, and a WWI launch restored by the conservation team and volunteers.
In her roles, Jessica gets to help plan formal exhibition openings and children’s special events, schedule school programmes, help visitors choose what to see and do, and co-ordinate the bookings for thousands, including large groups of students, international tourists and senior citizens.
“One of the biggest challenges is keeping on top of your game,” says Jessica. “Knowing what people are doing and when they are doing it. In the first school term alone, we had 6,000 student visits not counting the tourists, families and other groups.”
Jessica was one of eight employees to upskill on the job in the ServiceIQ Certificate in Tourism (Visitor Experience) Level 3 qualification at the museum. It’s an assessment programme where employees’ skills and knowledge are measured according to high standards in customer service, communication, Māori language, pronunciation and customs, tourism knowledge, health, safety and security practices.
Among the most important skills she has gained is a basic working knowledge of Māori culture and language.
She says completing the programme has given her confidence in her role helping people from all over New Zealand and the world get the most out of what the museum has to offer.
“I know I’m doing things properly when it comes to interacting with different cultures, knowing our Māori greetings and the correct pronunciation of Māori place names.”
She’s lifted her game in sales, by knowing how to upsell and make a visitor’s experience even more enjoyable. She’s always trying to discover what a customer is interested in so that she can recommend the best activities in the time they have.
Jessica sums up her first year: “The museum has really opened a lot of opportunities for me and they have given me a lot of opportunities to progress. I’ve received heaps of encouragement. They’ve let me explore where I wanted to go and given me the opportunity to gain qualifications along the way.”