Where are they now? June 2022

Melanie Lowe, BA, Tourism and Hospitality Management, Mount Saint Vincent University

Kinu Tourism Project Pan-Atlantic Initiative, Mount Saint Vincent University

In Grade 11, Melanie Lowe was considering studying archaeology or law, but at her high school’s Post Secondary Education Fair, she had the opportunity to meet Dr. Candace Blayney.  Dr. Blayney spoke with enthusiasm about Mount Saint Vincent University’s Bachelor of Tourism and Hospitality Management program (BTHMT), and this interaction gave Melanie the direction she needed in planning the next steps for her education. 

Students in the BTHMT program at this time, had the option of completing either three co-op work terms or two practicum sessions as part of their degree. Melanie was financing her own education, so she chose to pursue the co-op option and participated in her first co-op at the end of her first year of studies.

Melanie worked as a Guest Services Agent at the Delta Barrington in Halifax for her first co-op. "The Delta Barrington was a great co-op employer, and I had a number of amazing mentors.” Delta was keen to have Melanie stay on and provided her with opportunities for advancement to satisfy the requirements of the co-op program, including roles in Guest Services as Relief Supervisor and Tour Coordinator. Melanie continued to work at the Barrington between co-op work terms while completing her BTHMT program and after graduating, remained as a full-time front office supervisor.

Melanie applied to be the Assistant Front Office Manager but was the unsuccessful candidate. The disappointment from this experience prompted Melanie to reevaluate her career choices which turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Melanie made a lateral career move to the Barrington’s sister property, Delta Halifax, to continue to grow her skills, but she soon discovered that hotel management roles no longer inspired her.

Melanie met many people during her career working in hotels, some who invited her to work for them. Melanie recalled advice from a mentor to “never let yourself become comfortable in a role” and was ready to try something new. The timing, along with a personal loss of a family member, created the circumstances where, after nearly eight years with Delta Hotels and Resorts, she took a leap and accepted an opportunity from Nustadia Recreation to assist in opening a new recreational facility in Halifax Regional municipality. "The team was great, and I was fortunate to have the opportunity with Nustadia. It gave me the courage to try something different, but it was not something that I could see myself feeling fulfilled with for the long term."

A former Delta colleague presented an opening as the Communications Officer with the Confederacy of Mainland Mi'kmaq’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Melanie focused on the communication activities for over 20 projects involving education and outreach in mainland Mi’kmaw Communities. Melanie attributes this role to finding her true passion and developing an understanding of herself as an individual and what was important in her life. However, she was missing being involved in the tourism industry.

While still a student, Melanie dreamed of working with Tourism Nova Scotia (TNS), so she monitored and applied to positions and in 2019, was hired as a Tourism Development Advisor with TNS’ Experience Development Team. In this role, she worked closely with Yarmouth & Acadian Shores and Halifax regions. Using concepts that she learned in university, she worked on product development, marketing, coaching of tourism operators, and creating specific programs to target specific tourism markets. 

Melanie loved working with Tourism Nova Scotia but parted ways a couple weeks ago, to return to Mount Saint Vincent University as the Program Manager for the Kinu Tourism Project Pan-Atlantic Initiative. Her experience working in both private and public sector, and with Mi’kmaw Communities in Nova Scotia, provided her with a strong combination of skills for this new role.

Melanie explained that demand for cultural tourism opportunities continues to grow, and travellers are looking for ways to connect with people, and the culture and heritage of the places they visit. “It is important for Mi'kmaw people to be supported in the recovery and rediscovery of their culture, to build capacity, and lead opportunities to share their stories with visitors. Tourism is an important educational tool.”

Looking back, Melanie thought her career was a straightforward, linear path, but when knocked off that path, she realized that direction is not always what it seems. “We can feel self-doubt and fear of failure in the unknown, but if you are true to yourself, you’ll discover endless paths and wonderful surprises along the way.  By continuing to challenge yourself, you may learn that there's so much more to gain than there is to fear! You just won't know until you open the door and step through it. Most importantly, don't let yourself get comfortable. Once you're comfortable in a role, you're no longer being challenged, and it might be time to consider your next move.”