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Isle Damkoehler

21 Oct 2019 1:39 PM | Anonymous


What is your current title and where do you work?

I’m currently the Senior Manager, University Relations & Campus Outreach at Boston University Study Abroad where I’m responsible for marketing and recruitment activities on-campus and with non-BU partners, and manage the Study Abroad Ambassador program. I am also a co-chair of the Boston Area Study Abroad Association (BASAA).

What was your dream job as a kid and why? If it changed, what led to that decision?

As an adolescent I was enchanted by the idea of becoming a hairstylist. I loved the idea of helping people and making them feel more confident. When I discovered I was no good at styling my own hair, let alone others’ hair, I decided to let that dream go. Luckily, I still get to help folks by working in education abroad.

What was your first international experience? How did it influence your current career choice.

I lived vicariously through my mother's work travels. The gifts she brought home were fascinating; a huipil from Oaxaca, a bowl from Ghana and candies from all over the world. I remember a puzzle from Thailand that enthralled me with an alphabet I’d never seen before. It was no surprise that I caught the travel bug. My study abroad experiences ultimately led to my career in international education.

What was your first job in international education? Did you have a hard time obtaining this job? 

My first job in international education was at Spanish Studies Abroad as a Program Assistant. I started at the organization as an unpaid marketing intern while doing my Masters in International Education at SIT Graduate Institute, and it just goes to show that networking is everything!

Describe a typical day/week at the office at your current job.

No day or week is the same. I’m constantly interacting with students on campus, department administrators, and partner institutions. Between planning events, social media marketing, managing the Study Abroad Ambassador program, and working on strategic outreach, the role is dynamic and always keeps me on my toes.

What do you enjoy the most about your job?

I love that I get to see students in the best phases of the study abroad experience: before they have decided to study abroad and when they have returned, either as a Study Abroad Ambassador or an excited returnee. It’s so exciting to see how much they’ve grown and changed when they come back.

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

The most challenging aspect of my role is realizing you can only do so much. The Marketing & Outreach team at BU Study Abroad has so many ideas, but we are a team of three. The scope and budget sometimes get in the way of achieving everything we want to.

What has working in international education taught you about yourself and your own culture?

I’ve learned that having an open mind and a willingness to learn can lead to immense growth. I’ve had the opportunity to work with different people from all across the globe, and am grateful for those experiences and how they’ve shaped my life, both personally and professionally.

Is there a value or principal from another culture that you have embraced & applied to your life?

While on a short-term program to Turkey, I felt incredibly welcomed by the locals. Whether it was our host families or vendors at the local bazaar, everyone genuinely wanted to welcome us into their lives and culture. I’ve tried to apply that in my own life by being more welcoming and inclusive to others.

Do you have a career mentor? How has that person influenced your career growth?

I’ve been lucky to have had several supervisors and mentors who have helped, in both small and large ways. As a co-chair for the Boston Area Study Abroad Association, I’ve also had a sounding board of peers who are supportive and a great resource to workshop ideas and hear about others’ career trajectories. 

What piece of advice would you give your younger self, as it relates to your career?

Take every opportunity to learn! Although my career path has been mostly linear, it wasn’t always sunshine and rainbows. I took unpaid internships, low paying jobs and volunteer leadership roles because I knew they were a great way to network and learn. Each professional experience has had a positive impact on where I am today.

What type of hobbies or activities help you balance your work/life experience?

I’m working on my sixth year of what I call ‘Positivity in a Jar’. Each day I take a post-it note, write the date, and jot down something positive that happened that day. I fold it up and put it in a jar, and on New Year’s Eve, I open all the notes of positivity and am reminded of how lucky I am. It’s a nice way to remain positive when the day-to-day is sometimes stressful and overwhelming.


Our members come from different backgrounds, abilities, levels of experience, and parts of the world. Our goal is to embrace this diversity and encourage relationships across generations and experience levels for the benefit of all involved. 

The Global Leadership League was started by a group of women in the field of international education for the purposes of advancing women’s leadership skills, knowledge, and connections.


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