LIMELIGHT INTERVIEW WITH HAILEY GOUZA
What is your current title and where do you work?
Student Advisor and Marketing Coordinator at Barcelona Study Abroad Experience (SAE).
How did you learn about your current position? (Ex. Networking, Promotion, External Job Posting)
Initially, I discovered Barcelona SAE when I saw a SECUSS-L post for an International Education Internship and applied! Since then, I have moved up and had a few different roles at the company.
What sparked your interest in working in international education?
Growing up, my father was always very involved in our town's Historic Association and that sparked my initial interest in history. My first true cross-cultural experience was during an internship I had one summer during college. I worked with Somali Bantu refugees, offering job search solutions and resume building training. My interest in history and culture came together after a study abroad experience of my own, in Barcelona, Spain. I was fascinated by the intersections of history and culture and how each influenced the other in this city. After my experience, I was struck by the transformative nature of international education and realized the value of cultural learning coupled with personal growth and the coming-of-age journey it provides for college students.
What was your first job in international education? Did you have a hard time obtaining this job? How long did it take?
I started at Barcelona SAE as an International Education Intern. I graduated from college in May and it took me until February of the next year to land the position, almost 8 months. I had applied to hundreds of jobs across the US and abroad and was working on completing the Global Pro Institute. The internship with Barcelona SAE was the perfect fit for me, it provided me with a crash course in the field as well as practical job training and experience.
Tell us about your first international experience either traveling or working abroad.
My first experience traveling abroad was to Barcelona, Spain for my semester abroad. At the time, it was only my second time on a plane and first time leaving the country, first time traveling alone and my first official time being considered an “independent adult”. I was scared and nervous upon arrival and trying to remember every tip from my well-traveled grandparents. After a few weeks of adjusting and having some cultural hiccups- including buying mayonnaise thinking it was alfredo sauce- I quickly fell in love with the city and the adventure.
Describe a typical day/week at the office at your current job.
As Student Advisor and Marketing Coordinator at a small, but agile company, I wear a few different hats. My main responsibility is to advise applicants through the application process from initial interest through pre-departure. This includes form collection, data management, working with university partners, and the not-so-glamourous visa advising process. I spend a lot of my time talking to students (and parents) about their goals for the program and sharing my own experience abroad. For the marketing aspect of my position, I manage our social media channels, assist our Marketing Director in digital and print projects, and make suggestions for improvements.
What do you enjoy the most about your job?
I enjoy sharing my own travel stories with students and sharing in their excitement for a new experience. I love hosting pre-departure workshops, talking about culture and hearing about what students expect their study abroad experience to be like. On occasion, I get to travel to Barcelona and meet some of the students in person and hear how their experience is going. I then get to act surprised when they say it is nothing like what they expected!
What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
I would say the visa advising process. Managing applications from students across the country means working with 8 different Spanish consulates, who all need slightly different documents from each student, some in Spanish and others in English. This process takes a lot of attention to detail and very strong organizational skills. Shout out to all advisors across the field who are championing this process every semester!
What has working in international education taught you about yourself and your own culture?
Working in International Education has greatly expanded my personal worldview. This work has helped me realize that education can be a tool used to combat racism, hate, and ignorance. Being able to understand others, empathize and, embrace differences are all skills that can result from an International Education experience. These skills make a difference in the face of injustices and empower people to advocate for others while spreading understanding.
Is there a value or principle from another culture that you have embraced and applied to your own life?
The idea and value of a Siesta from Spanish culture is my favorite. I love the idea of taking a break when you need it without judgment. Work-life balance is so valued in Spain and something I think we need more of in the U.S.
Do you have a career mentor or someone that you consult with about career growth? How has that person influenced your career?
A lot of my senior colleagues at Barcelona SAE have served as mentors to me. Each have their own specialties and have offered me something different as I have advanced in the company. Specifically, both Kristin Uyl and Christina Thompson have leant an ear when I have had questions or doubts. Kristin is a marketing expert and has been an absolute role model of what a strong female boss should be. Christina and I go way back and she was my study abroad advisor in college! She has mentored me through many transitions and has worked to help me understand my own privileges and grow my passion for DEI work.
How has COVID19 Impacted your work life? Are you currently working from home or both?
I am currently working remotely from home, but that has always been the nature of my position! Now, I am just working on reduced hours and, of course not traveling to visit our partner universities.
If you are working from home, has that adjustment been difficult or enjoyable?
Having always worked from home I have definitely had an advantage and it has been fun to share my work from home strategies with friends and family who are experiencing this for the first time. Specifically, at the beginning of the pandemic, my fiancé was complaining every day and thought he would miss the human interaction. Now, he is hooked on the work from home life, getting twice the work done and hoping he doesn’t ever have to go back into the office.
What type of things are you doing to balance your mental health and lack of social engagement?
Taking walks is a huge way that I have dealt with mental stress. It has been so helpful to just take a break and get some fresh air.
Has enrollment of international students at your institution decreased? What strategies will your organization use in 2021 to regain student interest?
Enrollment has decreased but we have been working on some innovative solutions both for student engagement and for professional engagement in the International Education field. For students, we launched a virtual internship program that utilizes our network of companies in Barcelona and matches students with great projects they can do from home. Barcelona SAE has also launched a “study abroad menu” for our university partners allowing them to choose a-la-carte services to bring intercultural learning into their classrooms, virtually. We arrange guest speakers, virtual tours, and intercultural leadership sessions that adapt some of our best onsite offerings to classrooms across the U.S. Finally, for our colleagues, we just launched our newest addition to our Diversity Initiative: The TODOS Sounding Board. TODOS (The Outcomes-Based Diversity Outreach Strategy) is aimed at increasing financial resources, providing inclusive academic programming, and expanding outreach and training to those in underserved populations. The Sounding Board is an invitation for colleagues in the field to discuss DEI topics, collaborate, and share resources.
How are students at your institution coping with the COVID19 restrictions? (Social distancing, virtual classes, on-campus testing, etc…)
Many of our virtual interns have reported they are attending online classes and are hoping to re-evaluate for the Spring or even Fall term. Many are patiently waiting for things to go back to “normal”.
What is the best advice you can give to other global educators right now as we move into the new year?
Remember that you are not alone, every single person in our field has been affected by this pandemic and even if it will be a while before we can all travel again, it will return eventually and the need for cultural learning will be greater than ever. It is easy to lose sight of that day-to-day but we must have sustained hope for the future. I would also say let’s keep checking in on each other and sharing resources and professional development. Reaching out to those in and outside of your network even to just say “Hi” means a lot in these times of social isolation.
- Interview by Global Leadership League member and volunteer, Kanette Worlds
The mission of the Global Leadership League is to ignite change across the global education field by empowering, connecting, and training leaders. We invite you to reach out to us here or learn more about becoming a member.