Alex Henderson // CEA Study Abroad // Arizona, USA //
What motivated and inspired you to launch your career in international education and youth travel?
I grew up in a Navy family. Home was wherever my Dad's next post was. Because of this I was able to live all over the world including Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom before I had finished high school. While living abroad my parents made sure to instill 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.
Tell us about your work. How long have you been in the field? Do you have a Master's?
As an Admissions Counselor at CEA Study Abroad, it is my job to help students in the early stages of their study abroad experience. I help students find a location and a specific program that is going to fit within their academic, personal, and financial goals for study abroad. It’s really rewarding to see students develop a sense of enthusiasm for study abroad and know that I was able to play a part in their experience. This job really requires you to be a multitasking counselor who can work at a fast pace, and be great at talking about your abroad experiences – difficult, I know. This job allows me to inspire students to get abroad and explore the world – while gaining academic credit, of course! In addition I work closely with the other departments here at CEA to give student feedback, and be as up to date as possible with what is going at our sites to better serve my students.
Why do you think you were chosen for your position over all the other candidates? (Why were you uniquely qualified?)
I had the pleasure of working in the admissions office of my school during my four years of college, and actually worked for them as a traveling counselor as my first job so I had lots of experience working with students from all over. I also lived all over Europe and Asia and had lots of unique experiences abroad to share and draw upon. Together, I believe these experiences really gave me a perspective on advising and on study abroad that not many others had.
What were some of the biggest challenges you faced when trying to get a job in international education and youth travel? How did you overcome those challenges?
The biggest challenge for me was finding a job that didn’t require a Master’s degree. Most jobs in this field, at least, prefer candidates with a Master’s degree in International Education. It was really wonderful to find CEA and realize that it was possible to start without a higher degree, and even more rewarding and comforting to realize once I started working here that CEA welcomes those without a higher education degree.
My advice for those overcoming such a challenge is to apply to all the jobs you can, even if you don’t think you’re qualified. Application and interviewing experience cannot hurt you.
What advice do you have for aspiring global pros?
I think it’s imperative that you remain confident. As I said before, there a plenty of jobs that don’t require higher education degrees. It’s simply a matter of finding them and, if you search hard enough and are passionate about this field, you will find them.
Where in the world are you traveling to next?
This is such a hard question! I always struggle between going back to somewhere I love and trying something new. Number one on my list is to return to Tokyo and do a culinary tour. I love food and there is so much behind what a culture eats that I think it’s the best way to get in touch with the locals if you know what you are doing. Morocco is also high on my list after one of my co-workers, who is half Moroccan, has convinced me that I need to check it out. Also up there is Argentina while I have been to a lot of different places I have never made it down to South America and I think Buenos Aires would be a great introduction!
If you had to sum up your work in international education and youth travel in 140 characters (the length of a tweet), what would they be?
Helping students find a perfect match to see the greater world around them, and find their own passions abroad.