When people notice my travels on social media, or hear about my upcoming work trips, I often hear something along the lines of, “I want your job!” to which I usually awkwardly smile at in response, (mainly just because I am awkward sometimes…) But I truly feel blessed to have earned this job. For me, it’s the dream, and I absolutely love it. It is without doubt exhausting, and often overwhelming, but it is fulfilling work that allows me to travel and explore countries and cultures around the world.
I never at any point thought to myself, “I want to be an international student recruiter!” I didn’t really understand what that was myself until I tagged along on a short recruitment trip with my dad once during my undergraduate studies. But even then, I didn’t see it as a career, just something that was a part of his job. It wasn’t until graduate school that I really learned what it was about.
I stayed on working through most of my undergraduate studies as a part-time office worker and an international student mentor, and I even tutored at one point. I couldn’t get enough of being around international students. They taught me so much about the world, right in my back yard. And so many of them became incredible life-long friends.I grew up around everything ESL. My mother teaches ESL at a high school, and my father is the director of one of the most respected intensive English programs in the U.S. It’s in my blood. So when I was 15 years old and my dad said his office was looking for student workers, it was natural that I wanted to see what all of this ESL stuff was about. I started working at the University of Delaware English Language Institute one summer, giving new students campus tours, helping administer placement tests, working the cashiers window for students to pay for trips and bills, and filing student paperwork (while getting many paper-cuts in the process – thank goodness we all now have e-filing and online applications!)
After finishing my bachelors, I continued on further at UD to get my masters in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), and mid-way through my first year I was snagged by Nadia Redman, the Assistant Director of Recruitment, Marketing, and Communications at the English Language Institute, to be her GA. While my dad is the one who influenced and inspired me to get into international education, it is to her who I owe for all of the training I received to make recruitment my current career. She was (and still is to this day) my mentor in all things marketing and recruitment, and she gave me opportunities both during and after graduate school that many would not be so lucky to be entrusted with. During that first year for example, she brought me with her to France to attend a recruitment fair in Paris. I watched her do her thing, giving her pitch to prospective students in French and me in English, following her lead. Then during my second year, she sent me off to Turkey for my first solo recruitment fair in Ankara, Izmir, and Istanbul. That trip is probably what sealed the deal for me – I felt confident, I felt like I was good at this, and above all it brought me to see incredible cities that I may never have had the chance to see otherwise. Through her training and her letting me figure things out on my own on the road, she showed me what recruitment was all about and introduced me to a career that I never would have known was possible. I was all in.
So, I graduated from my masters program, and Nadia offered me a job to be International Recruitment Specialist for the English Language Institute, and to move to Brazil to pilot an in-country recruitment base, a vision she had wanted to implement for years. (That however is a whole story worth it’s own blog post, for another time!) After I moved back to the U.S., and after roughly 13 years working at UD ELI, I felt in my heart that it was time to move on.
Though things were never easy on the job, I was getting too comfortable, and I wanted to challenge myself by stepping outside of that comfort zone. So last Spring I started occasionally looking at job postings, just to see what was out there. It was then that I came across the listing for my current position, Manager of International Recruitment at the State University of New York at New Paltz. I read the job description, and it just felt like it was written for me. I felt like I could check off every qualification they were looking for, required and preferred. I had never felt that kind of confidence in myself before, and that’s something that Nadia, my mentor and friend, helped me to develop. I didn’t even apply to anything else – after my interview on the beautiful SUNY New Paltz campus, and meeting the people who are now my amazing co-workers, I knew it was meant to be. It was bittersweet to leave my family and friends from Delaware, but I was excited for this new journey, and I have been loving every minute of it since.
So, that is the personal and long-winded yet still condensed story of how I got into being an international student recruiter. A mix of hard work, influence, mentoring, luck, and passion. And I am just so thankful to everyone who helped me along the way. I am no expert; I am constantly learning about myself and about this field, and I am always being challenged with new goals and endeavors – and I hope that this blog helps me to continue learning by being more mindful of my career and travels.