Tag Archives: travel

Work Experience – FAQs

13 Apr

What are the benefits of doing a work placement?

Work placements are a great way to develop your skills, build confidence and gain valuable experience. They’re also a brilliant opportunity to try out different kinds of work and figure out the sort of career you might like to pursue.

Even though you aren’t getting paid, always remember that volunteering could potentially lead to a job. If you work hard, show enthusiasm and get to know people, you’ll be in a strong position if a paid opportunity comes up.

Will it cost me money?

Not necessarily. Many businesses will pay for your expenses such as food, travel and equipment.

What skills do I need?

Some placements may require particular skills but most of the time you just need to be enthusiastic about the organisation and willing to work hard. Most businesses will provide training at the beginning of your placement to help familiarise you with the organisation.

How do I find a work placement?

Many organisations will list work placements on their websites and there are also several websites which specifically advertise volunteer opportunities.

Remember that some businesses receive a lot of emails asking to do work placements so you’re more likely to be successful if you contact them over the phone or go in and see somebody in person.


If there’s a business you’d love to work for then it might be worth getting in touch with them and offering to work for free.

What if I don’t like the placement or something else comes up?

Remember that you aren’t getting paid so you can leave a placement whenever you like. However, it’s always a good idea to talk things through your supervisor first and give them a fair amount of notice so they can prepare for your departure.

Voyage Fairtrade

7 Feb

Sam Birtwistle was one of the winners of last year’s Big Ideas competition. His business, Voyage Fairtrade, started off selling fairtrade and ethical jewellery handmade by artisans from all over the world.  Now, he has expanded his range to other ornaments and practical items for use around the home.  Here Sam tells us more about his business and how he got started.

Voyage Fairtrade

What is Voyage Fairtrade?

Voyage Fairtrade sells a wide range of Fairtrade and ethically handmade goods from ornaments to practical home items.  The huge selection of goods come from all four corners of the globe, not just from the stereotypical Fairtrade countries you may think of, helping as many local economies and artisans as possible.  This means that if you buy from Voyage you are not just buying a beautiful, practical item for you, a loved one or your home, you are helping alleviate poverty and helping countries develop: it is a win-win situation.   

What are your plans for the future of Voyage Fairtrade?

I am expanding our range of products so they will be 100% unique and buying from more countries.  With the name Voyage I wish to be involved in different countries, cultures and societies.

What was your inspiration to start your own business?

I have had a number of inspirations, but my biggest was when I was 16.  I was working in my first job in a shop at a holiday park; the park wasn’t performing very well and I thought ‘I would like to buy the business off the manager and show him how to run it properly!’

What has been your biggest hurdle so far?

My biggest hurdle so far has been marketing and getting my name out there, especially social media: I know that’s important!

What is the best thing about running your own business?

You are your own boss and it is your own life, you can do pretty much anything. You can even have that extra hour of sleep if you need it!

What advantages and disadvantages do you think you have as a young entrepreneur?

I think my biggest strength is my motivation and determination; I haven’t made a success of this yet, but will force myself to make something out of it. My biggest weakness is I should be a bit more organised, as that can make a world of difference!

What advice would you give to young people considering self-employment?

I would say to people: anyone with a good idea, drive and a strong work ethic can start a business, you don’t even need qualifications!  I have epilepsy and sometimes I have to stop work and sleep it off. I have other disabilities too, my balance and coordination are quite bad so it takes me longer to perform tasks for example typing on a keyboard, which isn’t that great if you want to start a business! So if I can start a company then I’m sure you can too!

You can find Voyage Fairtrade on Facebook

Interview with a Travel Counsellor

19 Nov

“Travel agent” might not be the first thing that springs to mind when thinking about self employment, but Travel Counsellors have made it possible for Travel Agents to work on a self employed basis for a company – the best of both worlds!  Below is an interview with Helen Birtwistle, who has been working as a Travel Counsellor for 18 months.


Travel Counsellors is an Independent Travel Agency.   All their Travel Agents are home based and work on a self-employed basis.  We have offices in the UK, Belgium, Ireland, Australia, Canada, South Africa and the United Emirates.  There are over 1000 Travel Counsellors around the world.


I have been in the Travel Industry for over 25 years and I have known about Travel Counsellors for many years, as it is one of the most highly regarded companies within the Industry.


I wanted to provide my clients with a highly professional and personalised service, which I felt had been lost within the high street agencies, but it is the main ethos within Travel Counsellors. I also liked the idea of having the security of working for a company but on a self-employed basis.  It gives me the flexibility and freedom I craved.


I have advertised in the local newspapers. I attend regular Business Network Meetings, this is where local business people get together to promote their businesses. I have my own website and promote through Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin.  The biggest contributor for business growth is       referrals and personal recommendations.  On every booking and enquiry, I ask clients to refer me to their family and friends.


I love the freedom and flexibility of being self-employed.  I like being in charge of my own destiny. It is hard work, but I reap all the rewards.


You must always remain focused, disciplined & motivated.  There will be busy and quiet moments, especially when you first start out, but you must always remain positive.


I have only been working with Travel Counsellors for 18 months.  My future plan is to build up and establish a good client base, that will come to me year after year.