Jerren Heng

"Contrary to the saying of ‘when one door closes, another door opens’, co-op creates the effect of continuous doors opening for you at the same time, and none closing."

PROGRAM: Hospitality Management
GRADUATED: 2015
CURRENTLY: Front Office at Park Hyatt Melbourne

As a strong believer of gaining education and experience at the same time, Vancouver Island University was a clear choice when deciding where I would study; purely based on the inclusion of an experiential learning aspect in the program. When deciding to leave Australia to pursue my dream career in the hospitality industry, there seemed no better place to go than Canada. Two years later and a diploma in Hospitality Management, I have studied in one of the most beautiful countries in the world. With that, I also had the privilege to work and live in some of the most picturesque parts of this wonderful country, all through the opportunities given to me through my co-op work terms.

Co-op, to me, was all about setting targets and goals, as well as using the necessary resources, connections and support from faculty to achieve these goals. Contrary to the saying of “when one door closes, another door opens”, co-op creates the effect of continuous doors opening for you at the same time, and none closing. As with many industries nowadays, creating networks and building connections is one of the most important tools when landing your dream job.

The highlight for me was securing my first co-op position as a Guest Services Agent at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. It felt like I was getting paid whilst being on holidays in one of the most iconic and most visited places in Canada. Not only did I learn about the industry in what seems like a giant people factory, I gained new friendships from all over the world. I also built a strong network of people in the hospitality industry to help me succeed in achieving my goals and was able to bring it all back to the classroom at VIU. The experience allowed me to grow with a renowned company and chain of luxury hotels, and led me to securing my second co-op at the Fairmont Empress in Victoria as a Front Desk Agent. Working with a chain company, there are endless opportunities to advance in an organization that mentors and support their employees all around the world.

With education becoming more and more accessible, employers will tend to look more towards experience, as well as the coveted “piece of paper”. From the start to the end of the program, I felt that I was continually achieving goals and understanding more about the industry through applying classroom theory to real world situations; knowing that it is setting me up for when I graduate. I encourage fellow and future students to continue dedicating
themselves to this amazing program and use all the resources and support available to make their experience more fulfilling.

Two years later, I am still in Canada, another step closer to my dream, but with many more doors that have opened to me, new friendships and a great network of people. With the growth of the industry and abundance of opportunities, we are now in the right place at the right time. Congratulations to those that have finished the program alongside me and have become leaders or will be the future of the industry. Thank you to the faculty for the continuous support and advice. For all current students, keep on chasing and achieving those dreams!