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Industrial Placement Report

Page history last edited by adam@... 13 years, 8 months ago

Placement Report 2008

1.  Introduction

I was employed as a web developement intern at Extranomical Adventures, a small tourism company in San Francisco, at the beginning of June 2007. The internship is due to last until August 2008. My job position was mainly as a web developer for the company's online marketing department.  I was attracted to this placement primarily because it was located in the USA, but more specifically because it was located in the technology epicentre of the San Francisco Bay Area, home to Silicon Valley. I was looking for a job opportunity that would allow me to both gain experience in the web development industry, and also a chance to live abroad for a year. 

My job mainly involved ongoing projects such as company website maintenance, promotion of our tours via Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising and creation of both print-based and online advertising campaigns. I was also trained on all aspects of our company's reservation process – talking to customers on the telephone, booking tours with third party vendors and creating good business relations with hotel concierges.

 

1.1 History of Extranomical Adventures

Extranomical Adventures is a small tour operator based in the South of Market neighbourhood of San Francisco, California.  Tours run on a daily basis throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern California, specialising in smaller group tours to Yosemite National Park, Wine Country, Monterey and of course, San Francisco.

The company was founded by Rodrigo Enriquez in early 2002. After a period of worldwide travelling, Rodrigo discovered that he would much rather pursue a career in tourism than in his previous job as an IT consultant and investment banker. Rodrigo took advantage of the vast number of tourists visiting San Francisco each year and began guiding city tours, tours to Napa and Sonoma in the wine country, and also east to Yosemite National Park. He began with one van and taking reservations on his cellphone. 

After several years of hard work and careful marketing, Extranomical Adventures has grown into a lucrative business, with approximately 15 employees comprising 6 office staff and 9 tour guides with 6 15-passenger vans and a 28-passenger minibus. On an average day in summer, Extranomical has over 50 people on their tours all over the Bay Area. By far, the two most popular destinations are still Yosemite National Park and the Wine Country. 

Extranomical has expanded by over half it's capacity each year for the past 4 years, and it continues to grow. For the 2008 season, several new tours were added including walking tours of San Francisco, sailing tours of the San Francisco Bay and a Silicon Valley Technology Tour.

 

 

1.2 Organisation Structure  

Figure 1.1: Extranomical Adventures company structure.

As Extranomical is a small company, the hierarchy of authority is also small. Rodrigo, as company president, is ultimately responsible for all decision making and problem solving. Almost all of my projects were assigned my Rodrigo.

There are two managers, Ralph and Julie, at least one of whom is present every day of the week. Their main role is to organise the tours on a daily basis and to direct the office staff as to what needs done. Both managers are involved in training new members of staff, but more specifically Julie trains office staff while Ralph maintains contact with the new tour guides.

The task of training of new tour guides is a joint effort between Ralph and senior tour guide Jack Chalmers. Jack has been with Extranomical for 3 years and is the most experienced of all the guides. He is proficient in guiding all our tours, and has many years experience as a guide. Ralph worked as a guide for his first 2 years with our company, then became a full-time member of staff in the office, using his experience as a guide to better organise the tours.

Due to the small size of the company, each member of the office staff is responsible for taking reservations and helping with day to day operations. In addition to this, however, we each have specific jobs to fulfill. Julie deals with charters and group reservations, Ralph is our bookkeeper, Kelse carries out marketing for our tours, Elvie establishes business agreements with other tour operators as well as human resources, and I am the administrator for all of our companies websites. Several months before beginning work with Extranomical, there was a dedicated web development team consisting of three people. At the time of my arrival, there was just one remaining. Upon his departure in August, 2007, I took over as the sole developer for the company.

 

2.  Working at Extranomical Adventures

2.1 Contract and legalities  

Finding the job

I was hired as a 'Web Marketing and Operations Trainee' following a successful telephone interview with the company president, Rodrigo, in March 2007. I found the position through Colin Brannigan, a student from UUJ currently working there, and it was through him that I established contact with Extranomical Adventures and arranged the interview. 

 

Visa

In order to legally work in the United States, I had to apply for a J-1 visa through a sponsorship agency named CIEE (Council on International Educational Exchange) and submit a training plan for approval at the American Embassy in Belfast. The visa application process is lengthy and expensive, with a lot of red tape to pass through and took just over two months to complete. Upon receiving my passport back, complete with visa, I booked the next available flight to San Francisco International for the following morning, arriving on June 6, 2007 after a tiring 25 hour journey.

Training Plan

My training plan was essentially an agreement between myself, my employer and CIEE that outlined my duties, hours of employment and monthly payment. The plan stated that I would work 5 days per week, with two days off with weekend work required as necessary. Shifts averaged 10 hours per day, so I would work a total of 50 hours per week. Monthly compensation was $600 plus accommodation fees (around $600) and use of a company cellphone. A monthly Muni (local transit) pass would also be provided.

2.2  Job Description

  The training plan outlined the expected outcomes from the internship. These included developing an understanding of the travel and tourism industry in the U.S., web development & e-marketing and recognising clients' differences in travel behavior and travel expectations with the aim of matching the correct service and product with their desires. 

The job description stated that the job included working with the Web Marketing Manager and the Director of Operations to design and implement website changes and improvements. I would also manage several online Pay Per Click campaigns through Gooogle, Yahoo and MSN. Another duty would be to design promotional material for both print and web media. The training plan also included learning how to use the company's reservations system and how to take bookings, which is required of all staff due to the small nature of the company.

 

2.3  Weekly Duties

On a daily basis there were important tasks to be done. These tasks were assigned to each person by the Manager on Duty for that particular day. Allocation of these tasks was decided based on what shift each employee was working and whether or not it was the best use of that employee's time.

There were four possible shifts that could be assigned to each member of the office staff. These shifts were:

Early shift | 6am – 4.30pm

This shift dealt mainly with the calls from customers awaiting pick-up for our Yosemite tour, which began at 6am. The person on this shift would forward the office calls to their cellphone and answer between 6-7, then arrive at the office at 8am.

Morning shift | 7am - 4.30pm

This shift was set up to take over from the early shift and allow this person to time to get to the office.

Afternoon shift | 9am – 6pm

Similar to the morning shift, but mainly to provide someone to cover the lunch breaks for those on earlier shifts.

Evening shift | 12pm – 10pm

This shift was mainly to provide customer service until late at night and to provide someone to take last minute reservations. From 8-10pm the calls were forwarded to the employee's cellphone allowing them to leave the office.

 

Comments (1)

Karen said

at 1:52 pm on May 7, 2008

You lucky, lucky dog! k

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