bs tourism

Living the Life of a Tourism Graduate

I’ve been asked several times in my job interviews about my weakness. And I would always answer, “As a person, I am too ambitious—when I set a goal, I will do whatever it takes just to make it happen and make it mine.”

In fact, I found that response from an interview Q&A sample online, but it’s nothing less than a personal truth, anyway. It’s been so gratifying to dream as much as you can, isn’t it? It stirs your blood and willpower and state of mind to carry on and never take away your eyes off the prize. Libre mangarap, as they say. That is why when I was a kid, I once dreamt to be a veterinary doctor out of my fondness for animals. But not just that! I also aspired to be a cartoonist, since my first talent ever was drawing, and, eccentrically, a cowboy, a martial artist (influenced by some favorite PlayStation action games), and a farmer (influenced by another video game, “Harvest Moon”). Then, when I grew a little bit older, I realized I wanted to be a novelist or a photographer. Well, all of these were probably because I was too young to settle for one goal in life and to think of my professional future.

But now, nothing left from every person that I used to dream about. As I grew up, I learned how to set apart what’s believable from surreal, because today, I want to become a flight attendant.

I don’t know where did it start but as far as I could remember, I was already seeing myself as one when I was either a junior or a senior high school student. So, it was not like a childhood dream though I had encountered stewardesses a lot way, way back, but I could only remember them giving me snacks on board. This ambition was triggered what’s more when I saw “Snakes on a Plane” and learned a lot about the handsome, seemingly uncomplicated, and flawless nature of a flight attendant’s job—well, as it looks like to me. So, I was determined graduating from high school with a decision to pursue college with a Bachelor’s Degree in tourism.

I never mistook taking the degree. I found out that almost all of my classmates in college also wished of becoming a flight attendant. So, I was thinking I’ve been on the right track. After four academic years, I graduated with flying colors; though on my third year, my mind was befuddled then planned to shift to mass communication, since I also love writing and would love to improve my speaking skills (but it was too late so it did not succeed). I also found out that whatever I learned from college as a tourism student was nothing relative to a flight attendant’s job; instead, we were more trained as a planner of the country’s tourism industry, someone like an employee in the Dept. of Tourism. And I never dreamt to be someone at a desk of paper-and-folder skyscrapers.

Nonetheless, my dream blazed much hotter and brighter when I fortunately served my 500-hour on-the-job training with Gulf Air at the international airport. Working there, I consequently learned, is something that could definitely be my passion. So, I believed I was still on the right track. Attending to different cultures has been fun for me. My social and speaking skills in English, as a bonus, were still utilized and developed. Then, seeing cabin crew of different international airline companies marching, dragging their trolley bags, around the departure area was an eyecandy to me. All of them were head-turners, making me picture myself as one of them. And, last but definitely not the least, the very experience on the aircraft was irreplaceable! Well, let us find out as time flies…

First Job Interview

My first job interview had to be with Philippine Airlines Express just last April, applying for my dream job. On the evening that we were invited for an impact interview, I felt the nerves right away. I was already uneasy though I still had three weeks to prepare. A week before it, I began studying about their company profile and checked on some interview Q&A samples on the Internet, things that responsible interviewees do before the day. No wonder how I was the day before and on the very day! Good thing I had two friends applying with me (actually, one of them is my girlfriend).

Tall and smart, both how they looked like and how they really looked. That was all I could describe about my co-applicants, both girls and boys. I was wearing my graduation attire, thinking it could bring me good luck, but I added up a cream necktie to conform to the dress code. Everyone was so tensed but still behaving and looking so fine. Everyone knew this job’s not just a job but something that everyone wanted. I could sense the competition for survival though I knew that if ever I got through this, in the end, they could be my colleagues.

After so many hours of witnessing the first batches of interviewees…

“Introduce yourself in one sentence,” the very lovely senior cabin crew member or the line administrator asked the first interviewee—that was nobody else but me. Oh sure. I was the third guy standing in the white “torture” room. Due to lack of time, they eventually had to interview us by threes and to introduce ourselves very briefly.

“I’m definitely the one you’re looking for.”

That burst through my mind and was exactly what I answered with a candid smile. The pretty lady and the HR personnel almost laughed. Then, the two guys beside me were also asked to do the same thing.

I won’t deny; I was so tensed that time. I never thought this interview would have us standing before their scrutinizing eyes. I was able to answer their questions promptly, applying the best that I could remember from those Q&A samples. I managed to make a happy face and a happy smile to the best that I could because that’s been the number one advice. But it never turned good for me. None of my friends either. I think I was too vocally stiff and stern though I was trying the hardest to look friendly. That might be possible. Or probably because I was too wordy or I looked arrogant with both of my hands in my pockets. Or my braces might as well do it. I do not know. Heartbreaking? Not that much. It didn’t mean my dream to be a flight steward has ended. There are still more airline companies in the country, anyway. And it was my first job interview in my whole life. I still had more of it to come. What matters is it will forever be a good, starting experience for my job interview skills to be enhanced. So, let us find out on my second interview…

Second Job Interview

It was at my graduation day venue, Manila Hotel. I was applying for either a front desk officer position or concierge. These two positions may never motivated me to pursue my professional life but I was thinking it could still be of use of my degree, for I now believe that as long as there is a tourist, we tourism graduates can fit. I was considered, invited to do the second phase of interview but technically I didn’t make it once again, for I was being offered with a position that was never in my preferences. They told me I could not qualify to the positions that I wanted because of my height. So, I personally chose to discontinue although I received a text messages twice from the hotel for final interview.

Let me tell you, starting from my second, I’ve become less tense with interviews. And I think it’s a good idea. I feel as if I can respond to any interview questions they would throw at me smartly.

Third Job Interview

My third job interview happened in the Philippine Airport Ground Services Solutions last 7th of May. PAGSS is apparently the leading ground services provider in the Philippines. And Gulf Air is one of the airline companies under its administration. The whole pre-recruitment process happened within just one day, consisting of the initial interview, an IQ examination, a very long essay examination, and the final interview. I ultimately made it through. And at last, I was experiencing what it might feel like to be victorious as I received the confirming email. But after a couple of days of scrutiny, I decided to withdraw my deployment, due to ubiquitous discouragements (e.g., not-so-good pay and the two-year training bond). I just wasted my time and effort and all.

Fourth Job Interview

After a month when I submitted my second curriculum vitae to one of PAGSS’ contenders, Macroasia Airport Services Co., I was invited for an interview and examination. That was last June 20 when I would also have another one at TopServe Manpower Solutions, Inc. the next day. Believe me; the examination was easier than of PAGSS. So, I passed. But believe me more; the initial interview was crazy (possibly because I have misplaced my competence elsewhere on job interviews for having a month-long pause. Hahaha!) I never felt the tension like it was first time. That was the only thing that never left me even after the hiatus. But I should have never underestimated the company. The initial interview caught me off guard. I never practiced any of his questions. But, luckily, I never gave in. I just responded to the best that I could. Then, before we ended, he had tips and remarks for me. He confessed that I spoke too firm though I could really speak good English. He advised me to rather sound and look relaxed and naïve as we would be speaking to passengers. I suddenly brought to mind what happened in my first job interview at PAL Express and the probable reason why I did not pass. So, I was enlightened. Other than that, none. I could still recall the interviewer telling me, “I might consider you but let us see if you pass the second interview with the HR Manager.” And that made me think positive. But what made me think in a negative way was this thing they called “agreement” (I forgot the first term they used preceding “agreement”) where we still had to be loyal to the company for 2 years. Oh I see, just the same in PAGSS. For me, “agreement” was just an understatement for training bond.


Fifth Job Interview

The next day, I found myself in another job interview, as I mentioned earlier. This time, it was for TMSI (TopServe Manpower Solutions, Inc.) where I applied for another ground attendant position. By tens, we were called to stand in front, facing the rest of the interviewees and the interviewer. Then, behold the volley of same interview questions. I admit; I was a bit nervous that time. With everybody else’s eyes fixed at the interviewees? Oh man. But I still managed to wear the same backbone that I had during my past interviews. Then, when I was informed that I passed, I knew to myself that this would be the opportunity that I would prefer, closing my eyes to Macroasia that might still give me a ring for the next stage of interview. I advanced to the second interview for TopServe where I found familiar faces from the initial interview. Then, I got the advice again, stating that I qualified for the final interview to be held at Cebu Pacific’s Training and Development Center. On the final interview day, I could still recognize certain faces. I was the last person who arrived, so I was queued at the bottom. I was not expecting much but I knew I could do it. Same old questions made me respond with same old answers. One bad thing that day was I had bad colds so I think I was sounding awful. On that same day would be the day of the results whether we made it to the end of it all. With no further ado, yes, I was lucky enough to be one of those who were asked to stay in the room and hear the good news. And the rest is history.

I am now officially training for Cebu Pacific Air Customer Service Agent position, also known as ground attendant, since the 31st of July. However, it doesn’t mean I should be too certain to be deployed, for there are still trainees who can hardly make it to the last or any of the modules. So, what I should do is to perform to the best that I could. I decided for this, so I should be serious about this. On my dream of being a flight steward, what I can say is there’s still hope as long as I live. Let us see how things turn up because when I speak of my dreams, you are in fact speaking with another side of me—the unconditional optimistic. Hence, I can really say this interview response is really me: “As a person, I am too ambitious—when I set a goal, I will do whatever it takes just to make it happen and make it mine.”

By the way, Macroasia had contacted me after passing through TopServe, but I’m afraid I considered none of their two attempts. That only meant one thing: Cebu Pacific has captured me.

Cannot believe it; I never thought I would undertake that much of job interviews before finally settling down. I must say those four interviews before the last one prepared me to end up in a company that I have chosen. Looking for the right job doesn’t look like surviving college with its academic requirements. They are two separate, challenging things. College survival will only be an instrument for you to be hired.

© Kim Cardenas