What was your dream job as a kid and why? If it changed, what led to that decision?
When I was a kid, I never gave too much though to what I wanted to be when I grew up. I recall always feeling inclined to discover the world since a very young age. When I was eight years old, I remember saving for the longest time to buy myself a globe. I had never even been on an airplane and only knew a handful of people that had, but I loved to fantasize about all the different places I would go when I was older.
Tell us about your first international experience and how that influenced your current career choice.
My first international experience was right here at home. As I grew up, my mom hosted international students for a study abroad program in our city. I had a lot of contact with students from all around the world and quickly became fascinated with their interest of learning about Mexican culture and overcoming cultural differences. This experience led me to grow up with a better understanding and appreciation of my own culture and how a study abroad experience has a huge impact on people’s mindsets. After college and a few study abroad experiences, I realized international education was my passion and decided to follow this path.
What was your first job in international education?
My first international education job was with the same organization through which my mom had hosted students for so many years. I had just come back from a year abroad in France, when I had attended a goodbye party for my then-host sister. I talked to the new program director about my experience and about my years as a host sister. I offered to help plan activities for the students since she was new to the city. A few days later, I got a call from her to meet. I never imagined she was looking to recruit a student coordinator for her office. I left the meeting with a new friend and a new job.
Describe a typical day/week at the office at your current job.
My current job has two parts. First, my work with students onsite, includes tasks like picking students up at the airport, planning cultural activities, managing host families, and overseeing the students' wellbeing. My second area of work is in the office, or “behind the curtain”. I contact universities to build new partnerships, track expenses, update our social media and website, etc. On a normal day, I usually do a little bit of both, but as the programs grows, I’m starting to push away from onsite student activities to focus on behind the scenes tasks/ strategic planning to help the program grow even more.
What do you enjoy the most about your job?
I really enjoy our student’s first few days in the city where they get acquainted with their new environment and when their curiosity and willingness to learn is at its peak. This is really a refresher for me and reminds me why I do what I do. I also love the freedom that having my own program gives me to shape the student’s study abroad experience. I like to think that I’m offering a program that I would have love to do myself.
What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
I think it is establishing new partnerships with U.S. universities and recruiting students due to the bad press in terms of safety that Mexico has at the moment.
What has working in international education taught you about yourself and your own culture?
It has taught me that it is ok to not know everything about every culture and it is ok to be curious, as long as you always go about things with respect and open-mindedness. It has taught me that there are many ways to perceive the world, and above everything, it has taught me that we all smile in the same language.
Is there a value or principal from another culture that you have embraced and applied to your own life?
I lived for one year in the United States, and I really liked that people are very direct about what they’re thinking and are not afraid to say no to things. This is very different in a country with high context communication like Mexico.
Describe a moment in your career that you consider your greatest achievement.
My greatest achievement was receiving our very first student at the airport. I remember thinking, "This is real now. The program is alive." Everything that I had planned and dreamed for such a long time was about to become real, and I felt excitement and nervousness like never before!
What’s one piece of advice that you would give your younger self in high school or college as it relates to your career?
Do exactly what you’re doing. Don’t change anything. It will lead you to have the best job you can possibly imagine.
What type of hobbies or activities help you balance your work/life experience?
I love spending time with my family and friends. After a busy day at work I go for a long walk with my two dogs. I travel at every chance I get, I enjoy a good book, do yoga at least three times a week, and like any normal human being, I like binge watching every now and then.
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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