I interviewed Julia Duke who is the Community Outreach person for Trips, Inc for my Professional Practices interview because her energy and enthusiasm for individuals with special needs is contagious and I someday would like to be in a similar position to market a company as far as employment goes. Julia is an attractive, bubbly, ambitious lady who travels consistently to reach out to different communities in an effort to inform and connect others to Trips. My first meeting with her was over the phone, still, I could have swore she was smiling as she spoke. When I talked to Julia in person I found her easy to talk to, personable, and ambitious.
Her degree in psychology from the University of Oregon gave her the credentials to work with and communicate well with diverse people. Julia began by volunteering to be a chaperone for Trips while she was in college, after which she was hired. She has been with Trips for over six years now. For her first four years of employment, Julia lead a vacation trip every month (twelve trips a year), however, she is now doing more community outreach and has limited her trips with the vacationers to about three annually. Now seventy percent of her time is spent marketing and reaching out to communities. I asked her which vacation offered through Trips is her favorite and she informed me that camping in Oregon is her choice. She enjoys this trip because it allows her time to bond with the travelers.
Julia’s position in community outreach requires her to network and travel to various conferences and conventions. She stated that the organizations she contacts are usually interested in the services Trips offers since they are looking for ways to help people to gain independence and have experiences that will enrich their lives. Because of this she is able to do presentations and attend exhibitor conventions all over the US. Julia listed off some of the outreach conferences she attends—one example is the ASQ World Conference in Dallas, Texas where she joins with over thirty other agencies to help people with special needs. Julia was excited last time I spoke to her about a booth she will be setting up during May’s Special Olympics in Texas. She mentioned that the Special Olympics shares Trips’ mission statement because they value travel, team environment, and independence.
I asked Julia how she finds organizations that want her to do presentations. She informed me that she researches the conventions and conferences that focus on those with special needs. Next she calls or emails the organizations and offers a presentation and a booth. Her favorite conference to attend is the National Down Syndrome Conference which usually has about 2000 people.
Since she is the company outreach professional, Julia implemented social media into Trips’ marketing plan, as they had none when she started. She set up social media accounts and posts regularly to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Julia’s adventuresome enthusiasm, compassionate personality, education, training, and social skills all play a part in her success. It is obvious that she works tenaciously to bring vacation opportunities to people who normally would not have the chance to travel. Because of her efforts and the efforts of the others at Trips, many individuals get to experience the independence, friendships, and exciting situations that traveling to new destinations brings.