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A good opportunity . . . House of Travel Lakers (Gore) travel consultant Charlotte Chalman who joined the travel industry 18 months ago is one of five in line for the Avis Travel Agent Scholarship programme for 2019. PHOTO:SANDY EGGLESTON

Not only has she started working in her dream job 20 years after she left school but a Gore woman is the first New Zealander to be in contention for a $35,000 training scholarship.

House of Travel Lakers (Gore) travel consultant Charlotte Chalman is one of five in line for the Avis travel agent scholarship programme for this year.

The final selection will take place in Sydney on Wednesday, which Ms Chalman will attend.

The programme has been running in Australia for 23 years and was opened to New Zealand agents in 2017.

The scholarship is valued at $35,000 and includes free business class travel tickets to an industry conference of the winner’s choice (within the Asia-Pacific region) and professional coaching.

Ms Chalman said when she left school it was not that easy to become a travel consultant, which was her first choice of job, so she worked as a librarian.

“It just didn’t pan out at that point in time,” Ms Chalman said.

“It wasn’t something you could fall into as an 18-year-old if you haven’t travelled.”

When she married a farmer and started having children, being a travel consultant was put on the back burner.

“I’ve wanted to be a travel agent forever and life just took me in different directions.”

However, she never gave up hope that one day she would help people with their travel plans.

“The opportunity came up 18 months ago with Susie [Barnard, co-owner manager] and I grabbed it.

“I’ve been pumped to do my dream job.”

She was “very, very excited” to have been chosen as a scholarship finalist.

“It is daunting but knowing that I’ve got the support of my owner-operator and the wider company is pretty special.”

The selection process involved answering three questions and she chose to do that by creating a PowerPoint presentation.

“The main focus is customer service.”

For the finals of the competition she had prepared another presentation which she would present to a judging panel.

The winner would be announced at a gala dinner later that day.

“It’s such a good way to reflect on everything I have achieved in the last 18 months and a really good opportunity to gain some mentoring from people who have been in the business longer than me.”

House of Travel Lakers (Gore) is co-owned by Tony and Tracey Laker and Gore branch manager Susie Bernard, who is travelling overseas at present.

Mr Laker said it was an “amazing achievement” for Ms Chalman to make it to the finals.

“This is a really prestigious award open to all travel agents in Australia and New Zealand . She’s effectively down to the final five and the only one from New Zealand,” Mr Laker said.