Orange County Visitors Association Teams with Industry and Educational Partners to Promote Careers in Tourism

My current role, Regional Director of Employer Engagement, Retail, Hospitality, and Tourism for the California Community Colleges in Orange County can sometimes be difficult to articulate and possibly to comprehend for people outside the CCC system. My 20-second elevator pitch often exceeds the limit.

But, at its very core, we are tasked with building and leveraging partnerships to improve career opportunities for our community college students.

The Orange County Visitors Association (OCVA), a coalition of city tourism boards across the county, will launch an exciting new year-long Tourism Workforce Initiative beginning in January of 2020.

Developed in collaboration with several industry, educational and community organization partners, the initiative is centered on a plan to utilize a custom-designed, branded bus to visit each community college throughout the county as well as local high schools. Student ambassadors and a team of young, successful and relatable industry representatives will be traveling on the bus to share their individual career narratives and promote careers in Tourism, Hospitality and its related sectors at numerous campuses.

Within our communities, RD’s such as myself serve as the bridge between colleges and employers in our sector. We advocate, we inform, we connect, and ultimately, we help to improve our students training and pathways to viable careers. We often encounter obstacles to work through or around. But, sometimes we get lucky, the stars align and our work can all appear to come together quite seamlessly.

In this case, a contact at the Orange County Business Council reached out to connect the OCVA representative with me. The discussion began with inquiries around scheduling visits to our community colleges. The next thing you know, regional funding has been secured and a new, valued partnership has been formed. It is a privilege to have the good fortune to be at the table of this exciting new initiative to promote and raise awareness about careers in Tourism and Hospitality, a whole county and region at a time.

Working in industry engagement, it’s become very apparent to me that communication and connection are at the absolute heart of what we do. The OCVA has a comprehensive, well-thought out plan in place and the region’s CCC, K-12, community and industry partnerships are quite strong.

As I approach 2020, I do so with a profound appreciation of my industry, education and community partners. These are community colleges and community partnerships that are built for the future. In another bit of serendipity, these efforts align more broadly with the OC Community Colleges’ current regional marketing campaign to highlight career education, appropriately entitled “Future BUILT.”

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