I have been working as a “road warrior” for almost eight years, and for six and a half at my current employer.
My territories have ranged from the mountains of Montana and the cornfields of the Mid-West, to the coastal areas of the Carolinas, to our nation’s capital and the Big Apple, and currently to the mecca of higher education – New England. I have been to many cities and have met with faculty and staff at higher education institutions and international education offices in over 25 states to date.
Being based in Boston with a more “drivable” territory, which includes institutions in New England and upstate New York, I can do a lot more day travel than I used to (making my husband and dog very happy). Even with that said, the fall semester is usually the busiest when I am traveling and visiting schools most days of the week for 10 weeks, and in the spring term it’s closer to eight. The luxury now is that I can sleep in my own bed most nights.
A Typical Week
A sample week includes attending a four-hour study abroad fair in the Boston-area on Monday from 10am-2pm, before flying to upstate New York that evening in order to host a student pre-departure orientation session with lunchtime pizza on Tuesday. After that, I’ll then drive several hours to another school to accompany an overseas Center Director at their visit the next day. At these day-long meetings on Wednesday we’ll promote the respective program with the study abroad office, faculty, and prospective students. On Thursday, I will get up early to drive to another university to meet with the office staff to discuss our new program offerings, as well as to host an information table with some of our Student Ambassadors so they can share their experiences and stories about going abroad with IES Abroad peer to peer. (This type of interaction with returned students is more rare in my role, so I relish the personal interaction and hearing about how studying abroad affected them.) Later that same day I join-up with our Customized Programs department’s Client Relations Manager to discuss a potential faculty-led engineering-related summer program before taking a flight back home at 7pm. On Friday, I’m back in the home office catching up on many unread emails and student questions by phone.
Unlike other program providers, I also have the responsibility of being a Program Advisor so throughout all of my traveling and meetings, I am working by email with applicants and enrolled students with questions that include finishing the application process to all things predeparture—course registration, housing, visas, medical reports, etc. When I am not in the home office, I have a designated person that handles my calls from prospective students, enrollees, and coordinators.
It’s Not for Everyone
Being a road warrior takes a special person for sure and burnout can easily happen. It’s not for everyone. One must first realize that business travel is not as glamorous as you may think. It’s not all about eating out at expensive restaurants and flying in first-class. There are often travel policies you must follow, budgets to stay within, and per day meal allowances that you must abide by. It is also helpful to know that some providers are non-for profit and others are for-profit so marketing approaches may be different–I have worked for both.
Having qualities as organized, resourceful, patient, flexible, adaptable, self-reliant, self-motivated, and enthusiastic are key. I’ve historically always said that at the end of August I am eager to get back out on the road, but by the end of November I cannot think of anything better than an entire week in the home office! I have always been one to get bored at doing the same thing so I find the job exhilarating and a great fit for me personally.
Candace studied business at Bentley University where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Marketing and a Concentration in Business Communication. While here she spent a semester abroad in Australia at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) which opened her eyes to the big world outside of the small town she grew up in. After several years in the marketing world (and sense of longing for things international), she transitioned her skillset into the international education field. She has since worked in the areas of marketing, advising, recruiting, and institutional relations for IES Abroad.