What is your favorite travel memory?
My first time studying abroad I traveled to Buenos Aires, Argentina over the winter break. I arrived the day after Christmas and stayed through mid-January, so I got to ring in the New Year immersed in a culture different than my own. Our onsite director Raul invited my SOLmates and I to celebrate with his family and watch the fireworks from their balcony. He lived in a high-rise at the time, so we were able to see hundreds of fireworks all over the city; it was beautiful. Raul’s loving and welcoming family (combined with the delicious homemade food!) really helped me feel at home. I immediately fell in love with the city and it's people, and began to finally understand what it meant to be a traveler and not a tourist.
What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?
To me, the most important factor of being a successful company in this industry is having a team that loves what they do, is able to work together easily (even if we are half-way across the world), and is dedicated to taking care of each and every student. Our onsite directors work tirelessly to make sure that each student feels they are in a safe environment so they can be confident enough to reach outside their comfort zone. Our affiliate & foreign universities alike are wonderful to work with and are always ready to help the students out. Our US staff, many of whom are SOL alumni, genuinely enjoy coming in every day, working towards the common goal of helping our students go abroad. SOL fosters a warm and happy environment, which, I believe, comes across is our programs & contributes to a lot of our success.
How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?
Absolutely! In the year that I have been with SOL, I have moved to a new city and have been given the opportunity to travel the country on my own. These two things alone have reinvigorated my confidence in what I am capable of. I have also taken on & learned from an entire new set of challenges at work; I am rarely not busy and I love it! Since there are only so many hours in a work day, I have learned how to budget my time like a boss. I have grown a lot this past year and am excited for the years to come!
What unique qualities does your company possess?
Being a small company, we have the benefit of really getting to know not only our students from start to finish, but really getting to know the inner workings of SOL at the same time. Each team member wears many hats and are involved every step of the way, from recruiting on college campuses, processing applications, helping students select their classes, to managing social media, coaching student ambassadors, or meeting with our university affiliates. We have the unique opportunity to dive in and take ownership of many different aspects of our company, which is really cool.
What is the best story you've heard from a return student?
It is hard to just pick one, but my favorite stories usually involve experiences similar to the ones I had when I was abroad Argentina & Spain. I love it when students tell me about their attempts at learning the tango in Argentina or flamenco in Spain, or if someone took my advice and tried the restaurant near Academia Buenos Aires after class. I love it when a student can’t find the right words to describe the magnificence of the Alhambra, or can’t say enough about how their porteña mother makes the best milanesa in all of Argentina. It’s really cool to provide someone else with the same amazing opportunities I had in college, and for them to come back and share their stories with us is so fun.