What International Education means to me
I’ve known for a few years now that I want to pursue a career in International Education, specifically working in Study Abroad management. It’s quite interesting to be in a conversation with someone who doesn’t necessarily know what International Education is, but I find immense pride and enjoyment sharing this niche industry and how much it means to me with others. Usually when people ask, “what is International Education?” as a simplified answer I normally respond back with, “have you heard of studying abroad? I want to run those programs and help send students abroad!” That usually paints them a fairly basic picture as to what I’m describing, but International Education to me is so much more than that.
To me, International Education symbolizes the ability to make a difference in this world by creating experiences that are not only life-changing, but also culturally immersive and barrier breaking. International Education represents connection and reaching out to other people who might possess differing values, views, and traditions, across borders or cultural lines. International Education to me means embracing a new way of life as your own, constantly desiring to become more globalized and empathic citizens that embrace diversity, inclusion, and lifelong learning.
A world full of opportunities
Because of how impactful my intercultural experiences were during my study abroad programs, I decided to think about International Education more seriously in a professional context. I had this deeply-rooted feeling in my soul that told me to pursue this passion, a career-related passion I had waited years to discover. Studying abroad has quite literally opened up my eyes to a whole new world of potential possibilities! There are so many interesting facets to International Education that truly intrigue me, and I can’t wait to find out which career pathway in this industry is the right fit for me.
For example, the term International Education can encompass incoming students traveling and studying abroad in other countries; it can also be used to describe incoming international students studying and living in your home country. International Education can also include International Admissions and recruiting international students to a particular university. Initially I equated International Education as someone who works in Study Abroad, perhaps a program coordinator, manager, or director. Although those are all potential roles I would be quite interested in pursuing in the future, the term International Education is truly wide-reaching, multi-faceted, and full of many unique and rewarding career pathways that I can’t wait to explore!
As I dealt with having a disability and studying abroad during my programs, I thought back to the disability service coordinators and staff that helped me with all of my medical and academic accommodations and arrangements during my time abroad. I think being one of those people who assist students with managing their medical care and arranging all of those logistics would be a very fulfilling and deeply personal career that I can directly relate to. To me, being that person that students depend on, in order to make them feel more comfortable, adjusted, understood, and supported seems like the ideal role for me. I have been in those students’ shoes before and can personally provide first-hand insight and experience to help guide and support the students’ needs.
Rewarding experiences and being fulfilled
After talking with numerous professionals in the field, I’ve learned that working in this industry is not going to be the most lucrative career, and I am completely fine with that! Many people in this industry have told me that it demands a lot of hard-work, can be very stressful at times, but is still worth pursuing. The work that people in the International Education field do is incredibly rewarding and fulfilling, and many professionals in this industry are not in it for the money. These individuals, like myself, choose to pursue this field so that they can see first-hand the impacts of intercultural exchange occurring in the students that they support and work with. People in this career seek to witness others broaden their cultural horizons and experience the dynamic and intangible nature of immersion into a new culture. International Education professionals are fulfilled by setting students up for success so that they can have smooth and enriching experiences, learn new integral skills, navigate uncertain circumstances, and provide support and encouragement.
I’m also very excited to pursue another pathway of International Education by eventually teaching English abroad to speakers of other languages! This incredible opportunity combines three of my favorite things: cultural immersion, language, and education! I’m expectant for that opportunity to be incredibly eye-opening and will definitely continue to increase my cross-cultural understanding, awareness, and empathy.
I’m proud to call this unique and niche career field my passion and I strive to become the best international educator I can be. I’m eager to see where this incredible industry leads me and I can’t wait to support and guide students in the future along their educational and personal journeys. International Education has truly made its mark on my heart and life and I am beyond excited to discover all of the amazing opportunities, experiences, and adventures that are to come!