We caught up with former student, Maddie, who took part in the Queenstown Adventure Guide Program in September 2021 to ask about life after her AGP.
Tell us about your career path since doing the Adventure Guide Program and why you decided to do the course?
I currently work as an outdoor instructor in the industry. I have worked for Pure Exploration and for three other travel companies since doing the AGP. So, my outdoor career really did start when I booked on my Queenstown Adventure Guide Program.
I decided to take part in it after university. I sort of knew about the program in my final years of uni and then when Covid happened in 2020, all of my job prospects were gone instantly. I had to take a step back and think about what i really wanted to do with my life and think about what actually made me happy. I decided that the Adventure Guide Program wasn’t just going to be a college break or a holiday for me, it was going to be an investment in my future, in job training. I saw it as a pathway to get into a career that I would really enjoy long term. So for me, it wasn’t so much a holiday as it was job training and an investment for the future.
I came back to the US after my program and worked in a climbing gym for 4 months which was a really great way to consolidate all my learning and to practise what I had learned in a different environment, in a different country and build upon all of the skills and solidify all of the teaching that I had been given. That was my first job after the course and right after that I worked with kids in British Columbia as a guide doing rock climbing, rafting, and hiking. I was taking these little steps into the industry after my program in sort of different pathways to see which one I really wanted to do. So I did a little bit of experimenting after Pure Ex but I found that first year I was not at a loss for opportunities. I felt with the qualifications I had from New Zealand, they were been accepted in job applications across the world which was really, really heartening. In Europe, the US, Asia, all of my qualifications that I got in New Zealand for the most part were accepted and looked upon pretty fondly so i never really struggled to find an opportunity after a program.
I worked in BC and then in the spring of 2022, I came back to New Zealand and worked with Pure Exploration as an Assistant Program Instructor. Again that was a really good stepping stone for me. It was definitely one of the most challenging things I’ve ever had to do. I was suddenly no longer a learner, no longer experimenting or just seeing what works. I was in charge of people who were doing what i wanted to do, so it was a really great way to learn and to grow and to expand my repertoire as an instructor and I had a great time doing it. I felt i learned a lot of really great skills. What I had learned on the AGP, I doubled if not tripled that learning in the next three months as an instructor and it was a really great way for me to finally land upon what exactly in the outdoor industry I wanted to do and that is what i’m currently doing, tour guiding. I now work in Iceland, Ireland, Scotland, Thailand and other parts of the world as a tour guide. I do 9 day to 3 week long trips with clients age ranging anywhere from 15-16 year olds to 40 year olds. It’s less outdoor instruction and more taking people around cities, taking them on guided hikes, to restaurants and museums and I’m really enjoying what i’m doing now, i think I’ve landed on my dream career which is really exciting. I can really trace that success back to that short investment i made with Pure Exploration. Taking that step for myself, that investment for myself was a gamble and it was a lot of money at the time but it was something, as i said, that at the time was not a holiday that I’m wasting money on but an investment in my future that i was determined to grow upon.
How did you finance your program and was it worth the cost?
So financing the project was tough for me, I don’t come from an affluent household. What I did was I saved. I probably decided to book a year before my 2021 course and i didn’t travel in that year at all which is a bit unusual for me, i used to budget travel as much as I could but for that 12 months I stayed put. I worked remote jobs, I also work as a designer and illustrator so i got money from that and i didn’t really eat out as much as I would have liked. But I found cutting out a lot of little things was enough for me to save for the program. Despite the daunting number and the saving that i had to do, i found that i made a return on that investment three fold. I have travelled now full time working for three, almost four years and I make money while I do it. I'm not just a budget backpacker any more I’m working around the world so that investment has come back to me and i would say that it was absolutely worth the money.
Any advice for anyone considering doing the Adventure Guide Program?
Pure Exploration is a unique program. There are a lot of companies out there that allow you to join up with other travellers, see the world, do more tour groups like, for example, what I do for a living now. Pure Exploration is unique in that it's a job potential and it’s an opportunity for you to delve into an industry that maybe you’re not completely sold on but it gives you skills that are applicable in any field really.
So for those considering the course, I’d say go into it not as someone who wants an expensive holiday but as something that will help you find your dream job in the outdoor industry or just trying the outdoor industry or whether it’s just taking that break and building really great life skills like flexibility, saving, living with other people, organisation, and planning. You have to do so much growth on these programs that i would recommend it to anyone in any field if they felt it was an investment in themselves for the future. And like with everything, you have to be open to learning those things while on program, so going into it with kind of a laid-back holiday mindset I don’t think you’ll get as much out of the course then if you went in eager to learn and eager to grow and eager to expand your horizons so if that's the thing you were looking for and you were looking for something to really bolster you as a person and make you a more developed individual, i’d say this program is absolutely for you.