A World without ‘Someday’: An Interview with Julia Smith

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Happy Friday! Today for Feature Friday, I would like to introduce you to Julia Smith, a member of Inside Study Abroad's Special Projects Team. After obtaining a Bachelor's degree in International Education from Texas A&M University and teaching at a private International Baccalaureate elementary school in Austin, TX, Julia decided to merge her love of travel with her love of students. She returned to school and obtained her Master’s degree in International Education Administration from the University of Texas with the goal of working in a study abroad office. We are lucky to have her here!

What excites you most about a career in international education?

I have to admit, I’m a true geek at heart. I love learning new things and hate the idea of a career of sameness. For me, the most exciting thing about a career in international education is that every day there is something new to do or discover. Each day the world around you changes, and in turn, you must change too. What is available to students today was not available to them even twenty years ago and new opportunities are always showing themselves.

Additionally, in study abroad, there are so many more options open to students, all being spearheaded by international education professionals like me. Study abroad is no longer simply the ability to go abroad for a semester. You can do an internship, a maymester, a project in an underserved community, the world has opened up to students in ways that haven’t been seen before.

I can’t wait to be a part of that professional community and it is exciting to see where international education will go in the future.

What are the best ways to learn about the roles professionals play and their significance in the international education field?

I think the best ways to learn about the roles that professionals play in International education is to get involved. When I first decided to study abroad, I had no idea such a field even existed. For me, I didn’t have a great advisor that lead me through the process, I saw a flyer, went to an information session and then went abroad. I learned lessons the hard way and didn’t ever interact with the study abroad office. In that sense, I had a very different experience than many other undergraduates do with professionals in the field. It took me 4 years after my study abroad experience to discover the extent of the field that is international education and my interest really took off.

I started in international education at the primary level, working with staff from around the world at an elementary school and then went back to school after finally realizing that international education was at the collegiate level as well. In school, I took classes that would introduce me to the complexities of international education. I wrote every paper I could on risk management, legal issues, disability issues, study abroad diversity, and study abroad in general (I’m sure my teachers loved learning about it with me). While in school I worked in one international office and interned in another. I spoke to as many professionals that I could about various topics that allowed me to have a deeper understanding of what they do. I was lucky that the director and an assistant director were both open to mentoring and questions from a grad student looking in.

In general, I wasn’t afraid to ask questions. I think that is the biggest takeaway. You want to learn more about international ed? Find someone who is already in and is willing to help and start asking them questions.

Be open to new experiences and ideas and jump in with two feet!

If you had to use one tagline for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

There are seven days in the week, and someday isn’t one of them. I lump this tagline into a similar travel tagline that you see floating around the internet, “every year, go one place you’ve never gone before.” What’s the point of dreams and plans if you never do them? The elusiveness of someday lures people in and gives a safety net that allows them to never follow through.

‘Someday’ worms its way in your daily life and can lead you to accept life as is. You wanted to eat at the new restaurant down the street, well maybe someday. Someday I’ll go back to school, or someday I will have a million dollars (wouldn’t that be nice?), but somedays don’t necessarily come to fruition. I’ve definitely fallen into the trap of ‘someday’ and have fought tooth and nail to eradicate that word from my vocabulary. And it is that dream of a day, a real one not a fake one, that allows me take another step forward toward my goals.

Which one would you choose: interview with your dream job, or free trip to dream country/city?

If I could choose just one, I would interview for my dream job. My dream job includes travel to multiple cities and countries, so how and why would I pick just one? I want to be a in a position that not only helps students, but also allows me to travel to locations around the globe to research new study abroad opportunities. There is always something new to learn or see and I want to be in a position that allows me to soak up as much as possible. My dream job would allow me to follow my dreams and support others in finding their own dreams through study abroad.

#fun Describe studying abroad or the desire to have a career in international education using a haiku.

Go Study Abroad Travel Study Live and Learn Come back a new person

You studied abroad and now the world looks different join the #globalpros

Want to learn more about Julia? Connect with her online! You can find her on LinkedIn and Facebook. Have a question for Julia? Shoot her message in the comment section below.

Be sure to check back next Friday and meet our 9th and final intern!