‘I’ve found it’s good to pick a niche and really go for it’

The real world: Colm Hanratty editor of Hostelworld.com

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
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