Why choose a degree in International Education? What’s it like to work at CISabroad? We recently interviewed two fabulous women in the field of International Education and recent graduates from the SIT Graduate Institute. Learn how these two CISabroad staff are rocking the field. Meet Claire Novotny and Kelcie Evenson.
Congratulations on your recent graduation from the SIT-Graduate Institute! Why did you choose to pursue a degree in intercultural leadership and management?
I chose a degree in intercultural leadership and management at SIT because it gave me the opportunity to focus my learning on intercultural communication and management. In the end, I got a lot more out of it than I initially intended, isn’t that how it always goes? I found that I have a love for training and leadership, and I learned that intercultural communication can’t be tackled in a one year program, but is something developed over your entire life.” -Claire Novotny
“I fell in love with the field of international education while I was working at the study abroad office at my undergraduate institution. I was actually preparing for the LSAT and planning to go to law school at the time, but the more conversations I had with people working in both fields [International Education(IE) and Law], the more it became clear that my career goals were much more in line with the IE field. Best decision of my life!”
– Kelcie Evenson
What was the impetus to your career in International Education (IE) – when did the travel bug bite you?
“My first language was actually Dutch growing up and with every program we have leaving for Holland I only wish I still spoke it. I traveled with my family growing up and always enjoyed going off the beaten path. I loved, and still enjoy, visiting locations that aren’t filled with tourists. It’s excited to explore an area that hasn’t been explored by many before me. After my undergraduate studies I lived in San Francisco but upon returning to the East Coast I worked with ITD – The Institute for Training and Development, where she hosted incoming professionals coming to the states. It was from this position that someone informed her about CISabroad and in early 2011 I came into the office to learn more about the organization and quickly landed a position with the Customized Programs team.” -Claire Novotny
“I traveled abroad for the first time in high school to Italy with a group of friends before our senior year, and was instantly hooked! I studied abroad 5 times between undergrad and graduate school, and will have visited over 25 countries before I turn 25 this Fall. The travel bug is real! Once I realized how impactful my own study abroad experiences had been on my life, I couldn’t wait to share the same experience with others.”
Tell us about your role at CISabroad?
“I am the Customized Faculty-Led Programs Assistant Manager! I manage programs to the THEs – The UK, The Netherlands, and The USA. In addition to coordinating programs, I hire and place our On-site program coordinators and I manage our questionnaire process! If you don’t know who I am, I’m the crazy person with all the plants who runs around everywhere and eats weird left overs at her desk.” – Claire Novotny
“I’m a part of the University Relations team, and work as the UR Representative in Georgia and Florida. I’m based in Atlanta but spend most of my time traveling in Florida, there are SO many schools there! There’s really no typical day for my role, but most weeks involve a couple of flights, lots of podcast-listening in my rental cars, and talking to lots of awesome students about planning for their own study abroad experience!” -Kelcie Evenson
What areas of the world have you visited and what were the highlights?
“Latin America and Caribbean: Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Bolivia, Peru, Argentina, Uruguay. Europe: Ireland, England, Scotland, Holland, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Czech Rep., Hungary, Austria, France, Spain, Italy. Asia: Thailand (father lives here) North America: Canada and the US!!” – Claire Novotny
“In undergrad I spent a summer in Mexico, a summer in Spain, a winter-term in China, and a semester in Spain, and in grad school I went on a January field course in South Africa. I loved ALL of my programs, it would be impossible to choose a favorite. A few highlights overall would be climbing the Great Wall in China, learning to ride a bike in Spain, and going on safari in South Africa.
This summer I’ll be leading a program in Granada, Spain, one of my favorite cities in the world! You can follow my journey there on my blog (kelcieevenson.com), and also see what country becomes #25 in my personal “25 before turning 25” challenge!” -Kelcie Evenson
What was the most challenging part of your job at CISabroad?
There’s just so much to do!, and it never stops – but that’s what’s fun about my job too! It’s also hard to find the “right fit” for each one of our programs. Our faculty are amazing, but they all have different personality quirks and interests that we want to make sure we match the right Onsite Program Coordinator for the right professor. Sometimes I get it right, and sometimes I don’t…” – Claire Novotny
“The demanding schedule of life on the road can seem overwhelming at times, as it’s definitely not your typical 9-5 job, but it’s also one of my favorite parts of the role. Some days are nonstop from 8am-midnight, but somehow it’s still pretty easy to keep energy levels high, because everyone I work with (colleagues, students, advisors) is amazing! Whenever I feel like I’m getting stressed out on the road, I try to find a nice place for lunch that’s unique to my location that week. A lot of times in my region, that means the beach! It’s hard to be stressed out about work when you’re enjoying fresh seafood on the beach :)”-Kelcie Evenson
Advice for future SIT graduates and those interested in a career field of International Education?
“Take advantage of your time there! I choose the program because it was short, but I ended up wanting it to be MUCH longer.” – Claire Novotny
“Find a mentor in the field! Pay attention to which professors, advisors, or other leaders in the field are doing something you think you’d truly love to do one day, and then reach out to learn more about how they got there. I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of really great mentors in the field, and they’ve helped me with everything from applying to graduate school to preparing for job interviews. National NAFSA conferences
provide great opportunities to connect with mentors, and a lot of cities throughout the US have local IE meetups that are great for meeting potential mentors as well! Just stay engaged with your colleagues in the field and never stop expanding your network — people in the IE field are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met!” -Kelcie Evenson
If you are at NAFSA in Boston, stop by booth #1210 to meet more CISabroad staff! We are passionate about our work in the field of International Education.