Education Abroad

ISAP #12 Running a For Purpose Organization and Finding Your Professional Center of Gravity with Jim Pellow of CIEE

Happy new year everyone! I’m so excited to be launching into 2017 with you and sharing more interviews, insights and advice on all things international education and study abroad!

In Today's episode, I'm talking with Jim Pellow, CEO of CIEE. Back in October I had the privilege of sitting down with Jim at the IIE Generation Study Abroad Summit in DC. This was my first in person podcast recording. It was a lot of fun and I’m hoping to do many more at future events!

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WHAT YOU’LL LEARN IN THIS EPISODE

  • How someone with no traditional study abroad experience becomes CEO of one of the leading international education companies in the world
  • One of the most meaningful international experiences Jim has ever had
  • How to completely rebrand and transform a university from a traditional commuter campus to a world renowned leading institution (with a decent basketball team) ;) 
  • The work of CIEE that Jim is most proud of now
  • How he feels about those trying to break into the field professionally (hint: Do you know your your center of gravity?)
  • How to focus on growing the numbers of students studying abroad while maintaining quality
  • We discuss the research around the most impactful program models for study abroad learning outcomes
  • We talk program reflection and The Study Abroad Journal
  • How to get a job at CIEE

 

ABOUT OUR SPONSOR

As you may know, Terra Dotta is a leading software company serving the international education field providing flexible, web-based enrollment, processing, and application management software solution that streamline everything for both students and administrators. Sounds like magic right? Head over to TerraDotta.com to learn how you can join over 500 universities using their solutions for your office. 

 

DAY IN THE LIFE: CEA Study Abroad

CEA DAY IN THE LIFE

CEA DAY IN THE LIFE

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! 

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Screenshot 2015-08-06 12.27.15

## 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.

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Screenshot 2015-08-06 12.23.38

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!

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Screenshot 2015-08-06 12.23.47

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.

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Screenshot 2015-08-06 12.23.59

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.

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Screenshot 2015-08-06 12.24.09

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!”

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Screenshot 2015-08-06 12.24.18

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Screenshot 2015-08-06 12.24.29

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Screenshot 2015-08-06 12.24.39

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Screenshot 2015-08-06 12.24.52

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.

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Thanks for taking us Inside CEA Study Abroad, Alex!

Global Profile: Alex Henderson, Admissions Counselor at CEA

GlobalProfile-AlexHenderson

GlobalProfile-AlexHenderson

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.

Alex shares his Global Profile in 60 seconds or less:

Check back next week for the Day in the Life of CEA Study Abroad!

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You can connect with Alex and CEA all around the web:

CEA Study Abroad Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / LinkedIn / Blog

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