Patrick Hoffnung: “It was an extraordinary first job”

This week’s instalment of “My First Job” features Patrick Hoffnung, general manager of the European Convention Center Luxembourg. He tells us about his first experiences in the tourism industry.

What was your first student job?

When I was studying in Aix-en-Provence, every summer I went back to my family in Nancy and gave tours of the city as a tour guide. At the same time, working at the tourist office, I was in charge of a programme called “Holidays for Those Who Stay”. It was very nice and had a social aspect: the city of Nancy and the tourist office proposed activities for people who didn’t go on holiday, or at least not right then. I was 18 years old and it was a good experience—it was even my first steps in the tourism sector, a sector I’ve stayed in my whole life.

How much did you make? What did you do with your first paycheque?

This was in the 1980s, and in French francs—so I think it must have been around €800. I spent it going on holiday.

What was your first “real” job?

I was in charge of studies at the Bouches-du-Rhône Provence departmental tourism committee in Marseille. I set up an observatory and produced the departmental tourism development plan for Provence. It was an extraordinary first job. It was something new at a time when tourism was, for the first time, considered a science. We were dealing with marketing, studies, analyses, observatories, counting systems, etc. It was really a whole new dynamic in France. It was exciting. I was in charge of the observatory, but I was also a technical member of the regional system of the Provence Côte d’Azur tourism observation and analysis system. I stayed for seven years.

How much did you get paid and did you spend your first paycheque on anything special?

I don’t really remember, but it couldn’t have been very much—I think around the equivalent of between €1,200 and €1,500. I didn’t make any particular purchase: I had to pay my rent and buy groceries. So, I paid for my living expenses with my salary. It was a first salary, but above all it was independence, being able to live alone.

Today, what would you say to a young Patrick Hoffnung if he handed you his CV?

What’s important on a CV is having a lot of experience from internships and various experiences, even unpaid ones. That would give him an advantage when applying for a job, especially international experience. It shows, on a first CV, a lot of things like the candidate’s willingness and enthusiasm.

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