When I talk with people who want my job, there are two questions I always get:
What master's degree do I need for a job in study abroad?
How do I get experience when no one will hire me?
To be honest, I struggle to answer that first question. I have a master's degree (and a doctorate) in student affairs & higher education administration. My graduate assistantship paid for my education while providing hands-on work in a study abroad office. Then my assistantship magically turned in to a full-time study abroad job when my boss quit and I got hired. I was a lucky rainbow unicorn. Okay, there was a lot of hard work and strategic networking in there. But still-- to assume you can just roll on up and do the same is not fair. Things were easier 14 years ago.
I know that grad school is expensive. I also know competition for entry-level study abroad positions is fierce. And in case you didn't hear, study abroad jobs don't pay much. Starting annual salary is typically less than the masters program price tag.
So it is problematic for me to make a blanket referral to grad school without also mentioning:
I hate it when I see aspiring educators who paid 40-50k for a masters still struggling to nab a job interview. It is deflating to their spirit-- not to mention frightening when the student loan statements start coming. Sometimes it works out great, but there is no guarantee.
Similarly, I feel bad when someone spends a year (or more) busting tail to break in, only to succeed then hate their job 3 months later. Just because you love to travel doesn't mean you'll love being tied to a desk 12 months/year sending others off on the adventures you long to have.
The work experience question is more challenging. The easiest way to get work experience is while you are still a student, whether that be undergraduate peer advisor or graduate assistant / practicum student. Part-time work and training are more accessible when you are in a university setting.
Yet most of the people I talk to already graduated from university. They have full-time jobs to pay the bills. Or they are unemployed and need something fast. They might have time to volunteer, but they don't have the right connections to get set up with a volunteer position. So while it's easy for me to spout off, "hey, go volunteer to get experience", truth be told, even unpaid work can be difficult to secure on your own.
These 2 frequently asked questions were key motivators for the creation of this website. I wanted to provide a resource to demonstrate there's no one right pathway to a study abroad career. And I wanted to be really upfront about what it means to have a study abroad career. Working in these jobs is not always the dream it seems when you are a program participant. I'll be the first to tell you it is not for everyone or every stage of life.
Why I am telling you all this? Because I want you to know you have options.
Early on in the creation of Study Abroad Careers I knew I wanted to help others find ways around the common roadblocks. I had a few brainstorms and made some notes. But as is true so many times in life, I set it aside and it remained "just an idea". I was busy raising a kiddo, finishing my doctorate, working my day job, and building this website to share with you.
Fast forward to fall 2015...someone else beat me to the punch. Brooke Roberts, from Inside Study Abroad, built and launched Global Pro Institute (GPI). After kicking myself for my lack of action, I quickly got over it and my regret turned to complete and total excitement. Why? Because here's the thing -- it's better than anything I could have created. Honest.
The Global Pro Institute directly addresses 2 common roadblocks: education & experience
I (cautiously) connected with former GPI program participants, saw their progress, and checked out what all was involved. My initial fear was that GPI was just selling "the rockstar dream". But those fears went out the door when I explored the content of the classes and saw how people were inspired to move from dreams to actionable steps.
In mid-April I reached out to Brooke by Skype to see if Study Abroad Careers could partner to provide the class to readers. During that conversation, I realized we are on the same page, working for the same goal. We may have different approaches, but she is exactly the cheerleader job seekers need.
GPI provides everything I don't have time to give you right now. Study Abroad Careers is a major labor of love. And I want each and every one of you to grow and bloom in your careers, regardless of how that happens. I decided my only option was to share information about GPI with readers and let you decide.
Global Pro Institute (GPI)
The 3rd cohort of Global Pro Institute is about to close soon, but there's still time to sign up for this round. Registration ends on Sunday, July 10, 2016.
Here are some things you might want to know about GPI:
Who is the Global Pro Institute for?
Anyone who has a sincere desire to work (or grow) in the field of education abroad. I say sincere because it is a commitment. It is a real class. Brooke has a student affairs background and knows how to design a learning program that is also fun and energizing. The course lasts 6 weeks and is designed to jumpstart you. As with anything, you get out what you put in. So you have to be ready to reflect, listen, and LEARN.
What is included in the GPI package?
And after you complete the GPI class (this part is new):
You can find out all the details on the website HERE And a good way to preview what that really looks like is to search social media for #GlobalPro
How Do I Sign Up?
If you feel like this is something you could benefit from, here is where you can go to sign up:
Click Here to Enroll in the Global Pro Institute
Disclosure: Study Abroad Careers is a GPI Ambassador, if you use our links we get funds to contribute toward our web hosting fees (but, sadly, it's not enough for a pony).
Is GPI for me?
Only you can answer that. It depends on what you want to accomplish, what you already tried, and what you are willing to put into your career development. What I can tell you, is that you won't get any of the same content or experiences in a graduate program, regardless of what you study. It is practical stuff vs. theoretical.
I support GPI because I feel like this is the content and approach I recommend to people through Study Abroad Careers. Do I wish I'd created GPI. Heck, yeah! But I'm also the first to admit I just don't have the time to put together such a comprehensive resource right now. That doesn't change the fact that I still want you to know it is available and to take advantage if this kind of program suits you.