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Join Thomson as a graduate trainee and get a £500 holiday after a year


Every graduate scheme in every industry has a unique selling point. There are so many careers to pick; each offers something a little bit different, which makes it difficult to pick the best one. Some sectors, though, have better USPs than others – and none more so than the travel industry.

That's because everyone likes a holiday. "Once you've been with us for a year, one of the perks we offer is £500 of subsidised holiday concessions you can spend on anything you want," says Jeannine Martin, the manager in charge of graduate recruitment at TUI Travel UK & Ireland. Not every graduate traineeship can make such a generous offer.

This is just the tip of the iceberg for a grad scheme at a big travel organisation such as TUI Travel, which is one of the world's biggest tour operators, encompassing big brands such as Thomson and First Choice. You also get 25 days holiday allowance in which to spend your £500 holiday concession (a figure that gets bigger the longer you've worked for them), plus the obligatory pension scheme, life assurance and other benefits.

So, inducements aside, what does a graduate programme in the travel sector involve? Well, a lot of travelling, for a start. It depends on your posting, Jeannine cautions, but people working in some branches of the organisation can find themselves jetting around the world for business.

"The trainees will spend the majority of their time at head office in Luton, but as part of one of their assignments they will spend up to three months working overseas in one of our resorts," she says. "It is likely to be somewhere in Europe, and it will give them the opportunity to shadow lots of different roles, like holiday advisers and children's reps. The grads will also have the opportunity to experience a wide range of brands and products."

Sadly, not every branch of the organisation gets to travel so often – if you end up in finance, you may see less of the world than if you are placed in the commercial arm, but then that is the nature of the beast.

Of course, with all this on offer, recruiters are looking for the best candidates – you need solid qualifications, demonstrable intelligence and a business-orientated mind. And because the travel industry is so customer-oriented, you also need to have tip-top communication skills: "Everything we do is done with the customer in mind. It's why we're asking for a minimum of four weeks' work experience in dealing with customers – our graduates have to have dynamic interpersonal skills."

One of the biggest enticements of all, though, has to be the more or less unlimited potential for progression through the corporate ranks. Even someone whose station is as lofty as the group's commercial director for the UK, David Burling, started his career as a graduate recruit at Thomson 20 years ago.

He speaks glowingly of the opportunities the programme gave him: "Spending time overseas and in different parts of the business has given me a much greater understanding of what we as a company are trying to achieve," he says. "I've enjoyed a swift career progression at Thomson and I look forward to welcoming the new graduates into the commercial division."

So, with generous benefits, the sort of career progression that will sate even the most ambitious soul and free holidays on the side, for graduate students in the travel sector, it seems that the sky really is the limit.

Vital statistics

How to apply?

You can apply online at www.tuitraveljobs.co.uk – there is no set closing date, but they'll stop taking applicants once enough people have written in, so get yours in fast.

How long is the scheme?

The TUI scheme lasts 15 months, which is broken up into a series of stints in different divisions of the company.

What is the pay like?

Expect a decent starting salary – TUI offers £25,000 in your first year.

Will I get training?

Training is offered on a personal basis, so if you need something, you'll get it.

Are there any perks?

This is the good bit: you get 25 days allowance a year, and £500 worth of concessions after you've been with the company a year – a figure that grows the longer you've been there.

Entry requirements?

You will need at least a 2:1 degree in any subject, alongside 280 UCAS points. You also need four weeks' work experience of dealing with customers, and the appropriate analytical, communication and interpersonal skills.