Staff Member Spotlight: Octavia Sims

Experiential Program Coordinator


What is your favorite travel memory?

While roaming about a neighborhood “slum” in Bangkok with my friend, we were invited to speak with a very kind family. English was not spoken by anyone who lived there however the visiting sister of the family knew enough English to invite us back to dinner a few nights later.

A few days later, I had an amazing night with new Thai friends who were so excited to welcome farang (foreign) guests. We had an informal dinner on their porch: I tried food so spicy that even the aroma was enough to make my eyes water. The women and children braided my hair and did my make up.

Afterwards our friends treated us to the local karaoke bar where $.20 USD would buy us a few minutes in the spotlight. To this day that was one of the most welcoming wholesome travel experiences I have ever had.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

With API I have found satisfaction in helping others pursue their travel dreams. Coordinating for travel is not only making reservations or preparing paperwork - I am an advisor, a confidant, and a leader.

I strive to enable aspiring travelers with the guidance and resources they need to feel supported, prepared and knowledgeable.

Since working in my company I have learned that the strong foundation of support I receive from my Directors/Vice Presidents can and should be reflected in the work I do everyday. I have grown to utilize my natural drive to develop and nurture others by channeling it into an obsession for detail and highly effective communication.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

API's Teach-Volunteer in China program with kindergarteners is my number one pick! China holds a special place in my heart and I would love to send everyone there; I studied abroad in southeast China while in college and I have been trying to get back ever since.

I have been told that I would make a patient teacher, and API does have a formal teach in China program but I would like to help in a classroom as an aid, rather than the main educator.

With the Teach-Volunteer program I would be able to reinforce English teaching lessons to 4 to 6 year olds, play with them and teach them about American culture for about 20 hours a week, and the program is short-term.

I would also be able to practice my Mandarin, which is most likely on the same level as any adorable Chinese kindergartener!

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

My company, Academic Programs International, is unique in that we advocate for and facilitate programs that enrich and educate our participants. We are the API family and we would not send others on programs that would not send our own loved ones.

This standard is upheld and exhibited by having API staff all over the world to provide onsite support, by communicating quickly and concisely both internally and externally, all while keeping program cost affordable.

The API difference can be experienced in the pre-departure services you benefit from, and the warm person-ability in the attitude of our staff worldwide.

My experiential programs team is thoughtful, inquisitive and open-minded. I love working with them because they welcome new ideas and execute them well; I am proud of my team because they work with a positive attitude and successfully see participants return happy with their experiences abroad.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

Aside from the obvious careful vetting of programs and the company holding itself accountable for the services we provide, I believe that success begins from within.

If a company prioritizes the wellbeing of their employees and keeps them inspired, then their hard work and consideration for offering high quality experiences will be rooted deep within them. API is undoubtedly aware of that and I truly feel that my contentment with the work I do is valued here.

API is committed to sustaining a supportive and positive work environment for all staff, in our headquarters and all over the world, where employees are happy and can feel comfortable expressing their individual styles and interests.