Naoko Matsunaga – Tourism Management programme at AIS

One of the biggest benefits that a Tourism Management programme at AIS offers is the experience to work in a New Zealand industry. It’s something that many past students value from their time spent during their diploma, despite the many years of prior experience under their belt.

For Naoko Matsunaga, this was exactly the case. Having studied first in her native Japan then Canada, Naoko found it hard to find a job due to lack of experience. However, upon moving to Thailand, she promptly landed a position in a hotel that she values as the foundation of her career.

The next decade consisted of moving from Phuket to Bangkok, working in a hotel and communicating with both staff and customers. By the time Naoko left Thailand, she was fluent in Japanese, English and Thai.

Her last job in Thailand was a call centre. When their Bangkok office closed, Naoko followed the office move to Singapore, carrying on the same line of work. Reflecting back, she remembers it as a stressful job, but values the experience all the same.

I enjoyed interacting with customers. Even if the customers were upset or angry, once I listened to them and understood their needs and concerns, they calmed down.

Naoko regards this as the job which helped her gain confidence when dealing with satisfied and disgruntled customers. She learnt to build relationships with customers, but it made Naoko yearn for something more, and a better work-life balance.

That’s what brought her to New Zealand. It took some time to decide, but Naoko felt inspired by the advertisements seen on the AIS website. She found that they looked friendly, multi-cultural, and integrated all ethnicities well. Small classroom sizes were also part of the attraction. “It must be good,” she says, having recounted why she chose AIS.

New Zealand Tourism 
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It has a fast-tracked programme. In one year, we can complete a level 7 degree. I wanted to get into the New Zealand industry as soon as possible, but at the same time, I could get 20 hours working experience, so a one-year degree was good enough for me to study. I learnt the New Zealand industry, and gained experience and knowledge as well.

Naoko values that her lecturers encouraged her to get a part-time job during their studies, and though it was difficult to balance both work and study, it definitely helped her chances in the workforce upon graduating. She enjoyed that there was a small classroom size for students, allowing for individual focus when it came to learning. The lecturers were available to help her whenever she needed, with an open door policy, and the study skills adviser helped Naoko reach back to her school days and remember how to write essays and reports.

I wanted to know and I wanted to learn what New Zealand has to offer tourists. And at the same time, not only being a tourist, I wanted to gain the experience and knowledge to work in New Zealand tourism. That, combined with my background, hospitality and tourism, I thought it would help because there is no clear line between tourism and hospitality.

Currently, she works as a Senior Receptionist / Duty Manager at Heritage Hotel Auckland.

When working at Heritage Hotel in Queenstown in 2016, she liked that it was a small team, where they all helped each other and were fun to work with. It was a people-orientated place, and she was happy to be surrounded by like-minded people.

Naoko reflects on her studies at AIS as an opportunity to help her achieve her goal, providing her with a relevant update of industry knowledge in New Zealand to enable her to find a job that she loves.

AIS would be great for future students that want to focus on studies and degrees to achieve their goal.



Updated November 2017.