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The DPT Graduate, Veli-Matti Hettula Career Story

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Now here is a story for you guys who are pondering whether to apply to DPT (Degree Programme in Tourism) or where to head after graduation.

My background to start with is far from a usual one; I was working as a prison officer in Helsinki when I saw an advert of a Tourism programme where tuition was completely in English, but in Rovaniemi where I was born. Wow! Having lived in England for a while I got interested, applied and in the end got accepted. Then came the decision making process at home where my wife and two daughters came seriously into play. In the end we decided to pack our gear and return to Lapland as both of us have roots in Kittilä.

School started and my motivation was sky high! My wife took care of the children at home and I went to school every day thinking; "I must be effective with my studies as she is working hard at home so that I can study at peace!" Exams and essays followed one another and the group of students started to grow together. The first training during December came quickly and I wanted to split it in two in order to create an opinion of what I would like to do. First I went to a local hotel for a few weeks and liked it. The second place was an assistant guide with the UK charters at Korvala. I was a bit unsure of the whole thing with the Elf costumes and all, but I decided to give it a go with a company called Emagine Travel UK Ltd. It was a decision that I didn't have to regret!

The next Christmas I had a larger role and I also expanded the guiding experience to Saariselkä over New Year. Then came the last year of my studies and I was asked whether I would like to work year round for the company after graduation! Soon the school was out and new challenges were waiting ahead. Building my knowledge upon the issues learned at school had started. After a lot of clients and programme services in various locations in Lapland, I wanted to try the programme service sector more in depth with Lapland Safaris in Levi. Selling the services became more familiar and so did the comprehension of distribution channels of tourism in general. New groups from different countries and cultures broadened my knowledge further and I was lucky to work with a few of the very top of their business in and outside of tourism branch.

Developing something new has always fascinated me and so the next step was my current position as a Project Manager with the Kittilä municipality and Kideve, Kittilä Development. The first project combined culture and tourism into better conversation and understanding one another. I had to challenge myself to new branches and issues where I had not been thinking to work while studying tourism at the university of applied sciences. After the first one, new projects have come along where culture tourism, events, villages of Kittilä, tourism education and many other issues related to tourism have been the subject of development.

The growing understanding of the scale of tourism sector has broadened my view and also raised the hunger for further knowledge of tourism. Therefore I started studying alongside work in the Master of Hospitality Management programme at RAMK (now Lapland UAS). It was the right choice for my personal growth as in addition to the tuition itself I got the chance to challenge other colleagues and tourism teachers with conversations related in and outside the branch.

Now after about 10 years of tourism experience from different positions I still feel that I have the passion to develop and challenge myself for future challenges that are ahead. What they are remains to be seen.

In the end here is my advice to you who are currently studying and soon entering the tourism branch:

1) Go abroad at an early stage of your career. It will extend your personal view and you will learn more from yourself.
2) Ask questions and challenge yourself and others from time to time. You will learn more from the branch and the scope of it.
3) Future employees need to look at branches outside their own and understand how to modify the signals back to their own branch.
4) Be proactive, not reactive and you can be a future professional!

- Veli-Matti Hettula, Alumni / DPT graduate -

Kuvaaja, Vesa Rönty