Colm Hanratty, 30, is editor of the backpacker travel site Hostelworld.com. His job has seen him travel through 29 countries and stay in over 50 youth hostels. Hanratty has a degree in journalism and media communications from Griffith College, Dublin.
How useful was your degree?
In college, we learnt basic writing skills, investigative journalism and web design. I also did photography for a while, and radio, but what got me this job was the journalism degree.
After I graduated I went travelling for a year in Australia. When I came back, I set up a travel website as a hobby. I am a great one for keepsakes, I hold on to things such as flyers. I just thought I’d pass my knowledge on.
What do you do now?
I travel for maybe four to five days a month for Hostelworld. From my travels we make three-page downloadable guides on the homepage. I also create podcasts and update the online guides, sample itineraries and lot of marketing. I write the customer newsletter and update the content on the site, competitions, news, and promote new sections of the site. It is the first job I have had in journalism.
How did you get into it?
I graduated in June 1999, worked for the summer and left for Australia in October. I was away for a year to the day. I did all sorts of things, but I got sick of it. Eventually, I sent a letter to Hostelworld to say, “Hi, I’m doing this site as a hobby, any chance that you have a job?” It was a fluke. Coincidentally, they were advertising for an editor. My website was shortlisted for an award called the Golden Spider – a big internet award in Ireland. Hostelworld was also shortlisted for an award and that’s how I found out about them.
What was your worst job?
I didn’t detest any of them too much. I worked as a debt collector in Australia. I would be looking at the account, see how much they owed, have the phone number and before you even pick up the phone you just think, I am about to have a fight. Then you would pick up the phone and have that fight. That makes you stressed. I used to always have horrible phone calls last thing on a Friday evening. It took a bit of the fun out of finishing on a Friday.
What advice would you give to new graduates?
People should send in a letter if they like the look of a company. Nepotism can be a great thing, but for the rest of us it’s just a matter of posting in work that you’ve done and hounding people. If there is a particular field or company that you want to work for, find out the HR e-mail address and just post in your CV and a covering letter. You never know what might be out there. It totally worked in my favour.
The thing that helped me make the transition from college to full-time work was that, although I was flapping around for a year, I have found something that I love. I love my job, even when I am in the office doing nine to five. Tomorrow I am going to Granada in Spain, in June I go to Seville and July, Dubrovnik. I have found that it’s good to pick a niche and really go for it.
- Hostelworld.com has reviews and online hostel bookings for more than 17,000 hostels in 168 countries worldwide