Chi Lo is a 2009 graduate of the Master’s Degree in Tourism Management program.
Before I applied for NYU, I was teaching English in Shanghai, China. I had always wanted to go back to school, and the year in China helped me see the world, refined my focus in life, and reinforced my interest. I studied psychology as an undergrad at Boston University, but somehow wanted to change the world and thought tourism would be the good economic avenue to do it with. NYU was at the top of my list given its location and international reputation.
It was difficult starting school again, but through the tourism program, I was able to discover my passion for nonprofit/nongovernmental in a global setting. The biggest turning point in my professional career occurred during an internship for the Africa Travel Association. I met so many people during this experience and it led to more experience in marketing and communications in a tourism and nonprofit setting versus an ad firm with tourism clients. I was exposed to networking with people across the industry, which led me to Eddie Bergman, an NYU grad who hires many NYU interns. Through networking, I became connected to Steve Richer, who offered me a part-time position in DC. After I graduated, I moved to DC to pursue my career. While I was there, I also received the opportunity to intern for the Center for Responsible Travel.
Afterwards, I traveled to Cambodia where I hosted a twice-weekly environmental radio show for the Women’s Media Centre of Cambodia creating buzz, doing call ins and writing grant proposals. I then found an open position in Uganda with the USAID Funded Tourism & Conservation doing community organization and providing consulting strategies for tourism projects. While I was in Hong Kong for vacation, I was introduced to the CEO of Pacific Asia Tourism Association (PATA). I’ve been at PATA two years now, managing sustainability and social responsibility programs. I work in partnership with 800 others who are spread across Asia Pacific. We work not only within a municipal capacity, but also with hotels, airlines, tours, students, and governments. Internally, I manage the development of position statements and sustainability benchmarking, and making sure our concepts align with the organization’s strategies. Externally, I try to engage our nonmembers and illustrate what we do to help the planet in order to network for potential partnerships. I’m also developing online platforms for best practices to share with members on what’s already been done.
I love the opportunity to meet people literally from all over the world and to be in a position where I’m able to influence the travel trade organization. Moving forward into the industry gave me access to these members, which has provided me with good platform, great networking and endless opportunities – I’m lucky to have become a specialist for PATA. The industry is small, but big in a global aspect. What I got out of the NYU program was not just a degree, but also the opportunity to meet many professionals and experts in a top tourism destination like NYC. When I got to Hong Kong, I joined the NYU alumni chapter and met a lot of friends who are also SPS grads. Networking at NYU is so strong, but you don’t have to network only for business or career, because it is equally if not more important to create friendships and to build new ties.