Taryn Walker portrait

Harnessing her people skills to engage alumni

March 9, 2023
Author: Amanda Chacon Brown

What Taryn Walker did with her VIU degree

Taryn Walker graduated from Vancouver Island University in 2021 with a Bachelor of Hospitality Management. After working in various positions in the hospitality and tourism industries, she is now VIU’s Alumni Relations Coordinator.

This blog series shares the stories of VIU alumni to help inspire the next generation of learners. In this blog, Taryn tells me more about her career path and what skills she has acquired over the years that have come in handy in other positions.

What jobs and experiences have led you to your present position?

Taryn has had many seasonal positions, some in the hospitality and tourism industry. A co-op in Disney World and some time working for a whale watching company were standouts. These experiences were early introductions into her future hospitality education at VIU.

What aspects of your background have been most helpful?

As a volunteer firefighter, Taryn gained the ability to work in stressful situations and think quickly under pressure. Taryn finds the stress management skills helpful in her everyday life and in the workplace.

What incentives are there for staying in the same job?

As someone with extensive seasonal work experience, Taryn appreciates many aspects of

long-term positions. Health benefits, mobility and opportunities for growth are a couple of the big incentives for her to pursue long-term work.

What kinds of experiences, paid or unpaid, would you encourage people to have before entering this field?

Experience with planning events is key. Taryn explains that there is much more that goes into event planning than meets the eye. Events are also a great way to make connections. “Even if you’re not getting paid to do the event, just volunteering, build off of those connections you make at events.” Building a network is also key – Taryn has been able to connect students who have worked with her to acquaintances within her network many times.

If you were conducting a job search today, how would you do it?

For most of her working career, Taryn applied for jobs through online resources like Indeed; however, this has changed. Now Taryn finds that past employers and networks will reach out to her to come work for them before she even needs to apply for a new job. With VIU, she mentioned wanting to come back to her school environment and actively pursuing that.

Do you perceive career switching as a bad thing?

“I have career switched a lot in the past. Because so much of what I did was seasonal I was never really anywhere longer than about four months,” Taryn recalls. Some employers were hesitant because of these short-term seasonal positions. “It definitely can be a hindrance and building your experience at a position for more than a year is beneficial because it gives you those long-term skills.” She is using these long-term skills in her work at VIU, where deadlines can often be months.

Are there any similar jobs in your field that you know of are currently hiring?

Taryn describes VIU as a place that is usually always hiring. The hospitality and tourism industries are also frequently looking for new staff. The seasonal summer positions hire in January and winter positions are hired in August.

What advice do you have for students who want to work for your organization?

“Graduate first!” says Taryn. Having a VIU credential will make a potential employee’s application stand out when it comes to working at the University. It is written into some job descriptions that preference is given to alumni. “Any course involving people or people management will be beneficial, even as an elective,” she adds. Working at the university involves a lot of “people work” so generally Taryn’s advice is to get at least some experience in this area. She adds that there is a place for almost any degree to come back and become faculty.


Amanda Chacon Brown is a second-year Sociology student at Vancouver Island University. She moved to Nanaimo six years ago from Windsor, Ontario. Amanda is a member of the VIU Mariners Spirit team and works in two roles at VIU. She is currently employed as a Career Studio Peer Facilitator and an International Marketing Intern making content for the WorldVIU social media account. Her career ambition is to become a counsellor with an educational institution and she is passionate about providing fellow students with someone they can come to for support.

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