Interview with an Expert
What was your dream job as a kid and why? If it changed, what led to that decision?
I bounced all over with job ideas as a kid. One minute it was a horse trainer, but I couldn’t clean the horses’ hooves because it scared me. Then I wanted to be a hand model because someone once told me I had nice fingernails. I think it was a good lesson in recognizing there are many different types of jobs out there, but it wasn’t until high school when I started job shadowing before I considered what field I wanted to enter as a career.
Tell us about your first international experience and how that influenced your current career choice.
I was born in Wellington, New Zealand, so my first international experience was when I was six months old and my family moved to Maine. My mom, who is from the US, met my Kiwi father on a backpacking trip in Europe. Traveling was in my blood from the beginning and we returned to New Zealand as a family about every four years. It was my first experience in education that influenced my career path. I enjoyed the field of education and the idea of continual learning, but I wasn’t confident that teaching in a classroom was my calling. After two years of teaching middle school in Phoenix, Arizona with Teach for America, I decided to explore the world and figure out someway to combine education and my passion for cross-cultural connections.
What was your first job in international education?
I had been backpacking in Australia, South East Asia and New Zealand and when I ran out of money I went to live on my brother’s floor in Wellington. I started looking for a job, preferably something that combined education and travel or cross-cultural experiences. I started as Agent Travel Coordinator at Education New Zealand, and through this first position, I visited and soaked up all the information shared with the education agents. I co-led four different familiarisation tours to education providers across the country from primary schools to English Language providers to seeing student projects in action at the institutes of technology and polytechnics to visiting all eight New Zealand universities and understanding why so many US students choose New Zealand as a semester study abroad destination.
Describe a typical day/week at the office at your current job.
I am so grateful for Zoom video conferencing! My typical day begins around 8am with emails and project management for the ongoing initiatives my team is working on. Around lunch time I take a longer break than most and get outside of my home office to get food, bike, run, swim or go to a yoga class. I’m back online in the afternoon to prep for my evening meetings which in the summer, start at 5pm Eastern Time which is 9am New Zealand Time the next day. This is a typical day when I’m not on the road attending conferences and regional meetings in international education or conducting institution visits and attending study abroad fairs.
What do you enjoy the most about your job?
What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
What’s one piece of advice that you would give your younger self in high school or college as it relates to your career?
It isn’t easy to strike a balance between work and life, especially when work is in your home. However, getting out of the office mid-day for exercise makes my afternoon work experience much better. During my lunch breaks I try to run, swim or bike because I am usually training for a sprint triathlon. My first triathlon was the Kapiti Women’s Triathlon at Raumati Beach in New Zealand, where my aunt and uncle live. My other activity right not is improv classes. I made a business case for professional development for the seven-week Improv 101: Beginner class. I was thrilled Education New Zealand accepted my business case and sponsored me. It has been a wild ride and I’ve loved learning the improv basics, getting out of my comfort zone, and improving my public speaking and confidence.
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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