I met an ambitious, smart and bold young woman tonight who took me to dinner in Reims. She owns her own house in a small village, she’s the assistant to the director of the city’s important tourism board, and she’s traveled by herself to far flung places like Bulgaria, Egypt, Iceland and Sweden. Oh, and she’s all of 24.
She’s Camille Roberrini, and she’s got her eyes on rising up higher and higher in this key part of the Reims economy. She got the job in 2012, after spending time in the trenches…volunteering in the city’s visitor welcome center. Then she went to work in administration for a small village, but wanted to get into tourism since she had majored in this in college. She bided her time and when one of the staff took off for a big trip abroad, she called and got her job.
She doesn’t understand some of her peers who ‘only want to have a good enough job to pay the rent and buy beer and hang out. Why don’t they want more, a career, why are so many young people content with a boring job and not advancing?’ I had brought up the question of succession, and she told me about her father’s construction business. So far her two brothers aren’t interested in taking it over. She loves her job and spends many many hours at it. She’s a young person with a goal to get ahead in tourism.
Camille’s English is perfect. None of the famous French “ziss and zat,” but more like a Swedish person would talk. She recounted her trip up to Stockholm, where she went alone with a tent and rented a car, heading up along the coast at nine at night with no where to stay. “I never make reservations,” she explained, “I just let things work out.” She’s been an avid couch surfer and travels for three or four weeks at a time. She can’t imagine taking a vacation to the same place every year. “Some friends of mine go to the same hotel in Egypt every year, and never leave the hotel! They are missing so much!”
Some of the things she’s worked on at the Reims Tourism board are a map and website guide to World War One sites, knitting together the 25 towns in France’s northeast with battle sites and commemorative locations. She’s also pretty keen on the QR signs that have been put up so tourists can pull up information about Reim’s historic and tourism sites on mobile phones. “But I want them to be able to just shoot a photo and get the info, not have to download an app to do it.” Smart.
Talking to Camille, I was inspired about how motivated and excited she is about her job and about the tourism business. It makes me proud to be in the industry, and happy to have spent a lovely dinner talking to such an inspiring young woman.