How a few Unexpected Choices Changed Everything: An Interview with Sarah Kanellis

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Happy Friday from Inside Study Abroad! This is one of my favorite days of the week because it is Feature Friday! I love this because it means that I get to show off yet another one of my rockstar interns! This week, get to know Sarah Kanellis from my Education Team. Sarah studied International Business at San Diego State University and Industrial Engineering (in Spanish!) in Madrid, and has traveled to 13 countries.

If you're going on a 2 week international trip, what are 3 things you'll take with you, and why?

The only thing I would need is my phone, but along with it would come the charger, and the cloud! I wouldn’t really want the phone for its communicating abilities, although it’s nice. My phone is the easiest way to take pictures and back them up that night, so I know they are safe if I lose or break my phone tomorrow.

What was the deciding moment or event that led you on your first study abroad experience?

When I was a junior in high school, a local study abroad company came to my Spanish class and gave a presentation on the different trips to Europe they offered each summer. I immediately was hooked on the idea, so I saved up, got my parents to chip in, and went to Spain for three weeks. I remember leaving Salamanca’s Plaza Mayor on my last night of the trip and saying “Spain, this is not adios, this is hasta luego!”. I made it my goal to study abroad in Spain for a full semester during college, and four years later, I finally went back.

What excites you most about a career in international education?

I’m excited to work in an industry that I’m passionate about. I always told myself that I couldn’t work doing something I didn’t care about. I’ve tried working in industries that I thought might be interesting… but it doesn’t compare to being surrounded by so many other people who are passionate about the same thing as you are.

When have you been the most satisfied in your life?

When I studied in Madrid for a semester I was taking Industrial Engineering classes – which I have NO background in—completely in Spanish, at one of the most difficult universities in Spain. After my final exams ended I decided to travel around Europe on my own for three weeks. I met great people, and after two weeks I arrived in Venice for my first day in Italy. This is when I found out that I had passed all of my classes back in Spain. It was the most amazing feeling being surrounded by so many cool people, in a beautiful city, and feeling so accomplished all at the same time.

Describe a time when things didn't go as you wanted. What happened and what did you do?

When I was about to graduate from college and begin my job search, I had one goal in mind: get a job in San Diego. I was offered a position in San Diego with a company in the hospitality industry one week before graduating. It was picture perfect right up until I walked in on my first day and wasn’t even in the office for 5 minutes before I was told that the San Diego office was relocating to Las Vegas at the end of the month. I was given two options: decide it’s not for me and go on my separate way, or move to Las Vegas to continue working with the company. You would think this decision was a quick “No thank you”, seeing as my one and only goal was to live and work in San Diego. But go figure, I moved to Las Vegas to continue working with the company. Even though you may think you know how you’d react in a situation before it happens, sometimes it’s harder than you'd expect to say no to an opportunity when it’s put right in front of you.

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To learn more about Sarah, connect with her online! You can find her on FacebookInstagram, and LinkedIn. Have a question for Sarah? Shoot her a comment below.

Be sure to check back next Friday for another feature on one of my rockstar interns!