Alumna Lusine Margaryan - A PhD student working at a University

I am currently a second-year PhD student at Mid Sweden University in Östersund, Sweden, Department of Geography and Tourism Studies and affiliated with European Tourism Research Institute (ETOUR). My PhD research focuses on nature-based tourism supply in Sweden. Basically I start my PhD with researching business companies in Sweden that offer tourist activities in nature. Currently I am working on the analysis of statistical data from the survey we conducted in 2013, gathering comprehensive information of nature-based tourism companies from all over Sweden and creating a platform for further research.
Apart from researching I also have teaching responsibilities 20% of my time, so far my teaching experience includes lecturing (with various degree of involvement) in such courses within the Master in Tourism Studies program: Sustainable Nature- and Culture- Based Tourism, Research Methods in Applied Social Sciences or Advanced Destination Development.

The MSc Leisure, Tourism and Environment (MLE) has played an important role in progression of my career on the academic level.

Role of MLE in Career Development

First of all, before MLE I was not even aware that tourism is such an active and a well-established area of academic research. This is something that many people are often not aware of, not just outside but also within academia. Quite often it is perceived just as a subset of economics or business sector, especially in certain countries, e.g. Armenia, where I come from. During MLE I had an opportunity to meet some of the leading researchers in this field from various parts of the world who changed my perspective, sparked my interested in research and inspired me to proceed in this direction. 

In addition, I felt quite prepared for a PhD from the perspective of the lecture content I received. Now, when I have to research and teach myself I often remember certain articles or books that we had to read during our MLE courses and realize that they have been very up-to-date and relevant from the tourism research perspective. To conclude, I have found MLE very useful for my career.

Key Turning Points Career

The turning point for me has been to understand what I want, what I can be good at. It sounds banal but it is one of the most difficult things students face, in my opinion. The thing is, once you know what you want - you know what to do, what to look for, what to pay attention to. Once I decided I want to proceed to PhD, I started searching for PhD opportunities and paying attention to everything related to this field. Your mind becomes “tuned” to one thing and filters out other things. Also people around you learn about it and start helping you, forwarding you information etc. This is something, which, in my opinion, students should spend some time figuring out.

Strategic Choices Made

I would say that a strategic decision was to do my internship at Icelandic Tourism Research Centre (ITRC) at the University of Akureyri, Iceland. I decided that if I am interested in research I’d better find an internship at a research institute. I have always had interest in Nordic countries and there I also realized that tourism is an actively developing research area, with a vibrant research community. In addition, there is a big focus on nature conservation and nature-based tourism, which has been my long-standing interest. I believe that my experience at ITRC contributed to my further career development- it gave me an experience in tourism research in the Nordic context, which, I believe has been important.

Advice for Future Graduates

I believe I can only give some advice to those who are interested in continuing their career in tourism research and/or on the PhD level. Some simple pieces of advice from my own experience are the following:

  • getting a PhD is, of course, a combination of many factors, and luck is one of them. PhD vacancy with a position that suits your profile best does not appear very often. However, make sure that you are prepared for one, when it pops up.
  • decide if you want to go into research as soon as possible and use your MLE contacts as a resource: MLE information network, people around you may help you with information, contacts and advice which will be hard to find once you leave the academic environment.
  • try to have a good MSc thesis, because (in addition to a good grade) it can become useful in the future, e.g. a basis for a PhD project proposal.
  • choose your internship so it can be used as an additional asset for your future career, and in this case research-oriented organizations are a good option.