Every campus has a different approach to study abroad marketing. But one thing you will find everywhere is some version of a study abroad advisor, at a table, talking to students, answering questions, and handing out print marketing. Websites are great, but we all still revert to the tried and true, low tech, human-to-human interaction because it works.
You might find yourself at the study abroad fair, a table in the student center, or invited to a larger event where study abroad is represented alongside co-curricular opportunities. Whatever the scenario, if you have a study abroad career, you will at some point work a study abroad outreach event.
While you are busy worrying that you don't know the portfolio of programs well enough, there are a few OTHER things you should know before standing behind a skirted table for the first time...
#6 You'll lose your voice talking to students
Bring a huge bottle of water....HUGE, I tell you. Talking nonstop to throngs of eager students and competing with the roar of conversation at nearby tables majorly wears on your vocal cords. If you know me personally, you know I am "a talker". But even my motor mouth gets sore if I do study abroad outreach. When I work an information table I am smiling-- a lot-- and talking-- a lot. Being "on" for several hours can be draining when you are used to office work. No one prepared me for how physically draining it can be. Protip: Consider lip balm and mints along with your bottle of water.
#5 Carrying brochures is a crossfit workout
Rain or shine, snow or heatwave, you will find yourself schlepping surprisingly heavy marketing materials across campus. I consider myself to be a reasonably strong, moderately fit person, with "mom arms" that can carry heaps of stuff simultaneously. But I have pulled muscles hoisting boxes of catalogs and setting up tables for information sessions. Take care of yourself. Don't be afraid to ask for help from coworkers. The rolling suitcase isn't just for site visits. It's your new best friend.
#4 The term "trip" will make you cringe
Every profession has their buzzwords. Study abroad is no different. But we also have words that make us uncomfortable. Maybe it is a silly insecurity, but non-academic terms for study abroad will start to grate on you the way "dorm" makes the residence life folks twitchy.
#3 You'll get way too excited about new Marketing
#2 Program sign-in sheets are never legible
Never. At study abroad fairs or info tables lots of us still tend to go low tech. This means the dreaded "Sign Up for More Information" sheets and a ballpoint pen. If you are lucky you will have some help in the form of a student worker who types up the lists of names and emails the next day. But we all know how handwriting is these days. Prepare for squinting, wild guesses, and deflating bounce backs. Maybe one day study abroad will catch up to the 21st century.
#1 Student enthusiasm is contagious
No matter how tired I am at the onset, I never work an outreach event without leaving on cloud nine. Talking to students about their dreams of study abroad, sharing my own overseas experiences, and seeing those eyes light up -- especially in a first generation college student or person who never thought they'd leave the country-- is the reason why I do the work I do. Let's be honest. Sitting in an office all day, answering emails, shuffling paper, and putting out fires is my daily reality. But the few opportunities I have to directly promote global education on campus helps renew my enthusiasm and reminds me how blessed I am to work in international education.