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Published: 04 October 2018

Alumni profile: David Wander, class of 2016

Two years out of Surrey and David Wander is now a Cruise Director at Viking Cruises – the youngest in the fleet. We asked him about his time at the University, studying International Tourism Management, and why he loves his job.

David Wander on board a Viking cruise ship
David Wander on board one of the Viking cruise ships

Why did you to choose to study at Surrey?

The campus life, with fantastic connections to the south coast and to London, including Gatwick airport. The course was also rated number 1 for the subject. The open day experience was far better than any of the other universities I visited.

What were the best things about your course?

The balance of academic work and social time to take part in extra activities such as sport. I had some exceptionally good and very friendly tutors. The study abroad experience was also a highlight - I spent six months studying in New Zealand and it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

How did you change as a person during your time as a Surrey student?

It opened my eyes to a bigger world, the places visited, people met, the experiences and relationships made here developed me in every way possible; friendships and experiences that I’ll remember for life.

What do you do now and what do you find most enjoyable about your line of work?

I currently work as a cruise director for Viking cruises. After graduation, I put my career as a key focus and it has led me to the most rewarding job - I love every second of and it is highly applicable to my degree.

I progressed to this role in 2017, which made me the youngest cruise director in the fleet. This year I opened the season for one of the vessels in Portugal. I also manage a vessel on the river Elbe, a 10-day itinerary from Berlin to Prague.

I love the places I get to visit every day, the people I get to work with and the balance of work and time off. I work four weeks straight with no day off, but then I receive a few weeks off with paid vacation which allows me to travel the world. For me, it’s the perfect balance.

I also freelance on Super Yachts in my time off. Through my time at Surrey, I learnt skills and made contacts with people that allowed me the chance to work in this industry. This has led me to meet some of the most interesting people in the world, from serving royal families all the way to the sunny streets in Monaco, hosting Formula One legends.

How did your time at Surrey influence your career?

Surrey developed me in so many ways that it’s impossible to describe them all. The biggest growth for me was public speaking.  It was something I dreaded at the beginning, however over time and many projects later I am now in a job where I stand in front of hundreds of people and deliver entertainment, presentations, lectures and so on. It’s definitely the area I improved on the most.

How can students hoping to work in your profession make the most of their time at Surrey?

Explore every opportunity. The degree is important, but I would not be doing what I do now if it had not been for the people I met from other courses.  I spent (perhaps too much) time getting involved in Team Surrey - being part of the tennis team, karting team, sailing, social football, badminton and so on. I was very active around and off campus and I faced a lot of challenges, especially trying to balance the academic side and my love for sport (every Wednesday involved an afternoon of BUCS).

All the people I met along the way shaped me to become who I am today, and I’ve made lifelong friends, although most of them were not in my academic year.

What aspects of being connected with the alumni network are most important to you

 It’s always interesting to hear stories from other alumni. For me the one event I look forward to on the calendar is GradSport, a chance for old alumni to reunite over their passion.

What is your happiest memory of your time at Surrey?

The relationships and friendships made, and my involvement in all the sports teams, seeing the impact and how they are developing going forward. I wouldn’t change a thing.

If you would like to share news about your life after graduation and memories of your time at Surrey, please send us your alumni profile.