In August 2015, we partnered with the team at CEA Study Abroad to take us on the inside of their global headquarters in Phoenix, Arizona. Did we discover super secret study abroad destinations they're about to launch, did we learn their morning cheer, do they eat bagels or donuts? Who's to say? ;)Be sure to follow Inside Study Abroad on Instagram to discover the next place we infiltrate to bring you the inside scoop!
Take it away, Alex!
## Getting started for the day at CEA always has a little bit of flair to it. Our building is just spectacular; this picture of the exterior was taken on a less-than-perfect day and it still looks wonderful. My daily walk from my car to the door takes me around the koi pond, and it’s a great time to stop and reflect upon what needs to be done in the day ahead. Once inside the office, I greet the rest of the team with a “morning, y’all!” Most times, though, I get no response as my fellow Admissions Counselors are already in the middle of phone calls or in their first meeting of the day. With that, I dive into my own work, answering emails and voicemails.
Every day, we get the team together for a quick meeting we call “the Huddle,” in which we discuss updates, general student trends, and other big announcements we want to make everyone aware of. Sometimes we have special guests like Tim Boubek, our VP of University Relations, or Elizabeth Kather, our Director of Student Affairs. But it isn’t all business; often we have announcements for happy hours or other cool team activities like Festive Fridays. After the announcements, we break into teams and play competitive games against each other. This Festive Friday, we are celebrating Christmas in July by dressing up in our best tacky sweaters and bringing in our favorite holiday treats. Just something different!
Talking about myself, I grew up in a Navy family. Home was wherever my Dad’s next post was. Because of this, I lived all over the world -- including Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom -- before I finished high school. While living abroad, my parents instilled in me a lifelong love of travel, exploration, and other cultures. I got into international education by mixing my passion for helping and advising students with my own love and experience for travel.
I also had the pleasure of working in my school’s admissions office while I was in college. After graduation, my first job was as a travel counselor for my school, so I gained lots of experience working with students from around the country and the world. These unique experiences abroad provide me with so much to share and draw upon when working with students, and give me a perspective on advising and on study abroad that not many others have. While I do stay busy, I sure don’t do it all alone. We have a great team of Admissions Counselors here at CEA. We come from all over the country and have a variety of interests. Two are Arizona natives, and the rest of us come from South Carolina, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Missouri, and Virginia. That doesn’t even begin to touch on our Site Specialists, who we work with very closely with on a day-to-day basis! While we are all very protective and proud of our students, we also work together to achieve our team goals.
Because we work with all 22 CEA locations, it is important that we constantly learn and improve to give our students the best possible information. To that end, our Site Specialists and international on-site staff lead regular site presentations. This allows us to learn all about the location, our international partner institutions, excursions, and housing. We also get insider tips from the staff on all the cool things our students will see and do. Almost every time we leave a site presentation, you can hear the team saying, “Well, now I have to go there!”
It may look like we work hard, and we do! However, we also have fun while we’re here. The nice part of working at CEA is that everyone is passionate about international education and you can see that as we work through the day. Someone’s always talking about their next travel plans or sharing some sort of story from their own travel experiences. It is also not uncommon to hear co-workers speaking other languages; Italian, Spanish, Arabic, and Norwegian are all commonly heard in the Admissions Department. Other times, we gather around to share a cool YouTube video or a neat photo… then it’s back to helping students to go abroad! During the summer, when students are on vacation and not thinking as much about their study abroad plans, we work on other projects around the office. Here Ali and I are putting some final touches on a companywide presentation on Generation Z. One of the nice things about working in a smaller company like CEA is that you are afforded many additional responsibilities and get to work with almost every department. This creates not only a great work environment, but really makes it feel like one big team effort. (Also, these projects are really fun and look great on our resumes, too!) At the head of every good team is great leadership. Here, on the way back from a quick break I caught our Director of Enrollment, Tara, and we chatted at the map about where our next adventures abroad would take us. Our team leadership is always very supportive, with open door policies and ready to answer any questions or concerns we may have. Sometimes a quick question turns into a team training. Our leadership’s constant encouragement and support to improve every day are just a few of the reasons our team keeps reaching higher and higher! My end of the day is a little bit different. In an effort to be available to our students, we stay open till 6:00PM. I currently have the closing shift and it’s really nice to have a whole hour in the office to myself. It lets me focus and get as much done as possible, and I can jam out to my latest jam of the week. Outside of work, I’m friends with many of my coworkers. On this particular day, we went to downtown Tempe to celebrate a birthday. We also take advantage of the wonderful hiking trails, local music, restaurants, and other neat locations Phoenix has to offer.
Thanks for taking us Inside CEA Study Abroad, Alex!