Ted with the ocean behind him

Transitioning from co-op student to manager

June 28, 2023

From classroom to career: Ted Nathanson

Ted Nathanson is currently the manager of Wildplay in Nanaimo, a position he has held since February 2019. His journey to this position began when Ted decided to enroll in VIU’s Tourism Management program.

Here’s what he says about his working at Wildplay and how VIU helped prepare him for it.

Where are you from?

I was raised in Vancouver, BC, and have lived in Nanaimo since 2014. I am always running away from the mass of humanity. Now that Nanaimo is one of the fastest growing cities in BC, perhaps its time to move to a smaller city.

What made you decide to attend VIU? 

It seemed chill. I liked the sound of the Tourism Management program and the Island vibe was something I needed in my life.   

What did you enjoy most about studying at VIU? 

The cohort model of the Tourism Management program. Getting to work through the degree with the same humans and grow as a group is an awesome experience. It adds to the experience when you graduate and get to work with other alumni within the community. My position requires that I spend time collaborating with community and other organizations. VIU’s model helped ensure I have a strong network to draw on.

Did you use any VIU services to explore career opportunities or get connected with employers that you might be interested in working for? 

I did co-ops throughout the program. My first co-op was a great experience that taught me what I was not looking for in a career. I don’t think they liked me either. My second co-op experience led me down the path that I am still following to this day. Working in the tourism industry while still learning was a great way to connect areas of study to the real lived experience of industry professionals. I now hire many co-op students and I hope that I add value to their experience in the program.

After you graduated from VIU, what career or occupation did you move into?

After I graduated, I continued to work at WildPlay Nanaimo and moved into a supervisory role. I began managing that business in February 2019. The best time to begin managing a business. In all honesty, successfully running a business through the height of the COVID-19 pandemic was an invaluable experience. Since then, I have continued to run WildPlay Nanaimo with a strong focus on community development. Many of my staff are VIU students and it is awesome to watch them grow and excel within their roles.

What do you miss most about your time at VIU? 

I am going to be in the minority here but I miss writing research papers. I have always enjoyed writing. Being able to find information and use it to create interesting viewpoints on a topic was always a fun treasure hunt.

How do you think that your time at VIU prepared you for your career of choice? 

The collaborative approach to my studies prepared me for the industries focus on working together with other businesses within the industry. Create contacts, work together and be open to innovative strategies.

Do you have any advice for VIU students who want to prepare for careers?

For anybody aiming for a management or ownership position within the industry, I would suggest a heavy focus on accounting and marketing. I learned enough to get by but have since learned much more working within the industry. If you work for a small company, you might need to juggle several roles. The more you can leverage these skills the more successful you can become.

Make contacts within the tourism industry and focus on community development. We all succeed when we work together, especially within this industry. The success of WildPlay Nanaimo depends on the success of Nanaimo as a tourism destination. The same goes for any attraction in any city. If you want to succeed, you must succeed together.

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