I was fortunate enough to be selected to participate in an all-expense-paid spring break trip to Paris during my freshman year with my scholarship group. While I was there, I bonded with other first-generation students and one day we decided to explore the city on our own. As fate would have it, we got lost! None of us had cell service or spoke French. We took directions from strangers, hopped on a subway and hoped for the best. It took us hours, but we made it back to our hotel alive!
How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?
The growth that I've had with SOL, both personally and professionally, can't be adequately measured! Participating in a study abroad program with them during college gave me the opportunity to disconnect from social media and challenge myself to not rely on my smartphone. I slowly gained confidence throughout my program and was able to interact with new people and not feel nervous or self-conscious.
As an employee, I've traveled all over the country and have met amazing advisers and professors who appreciate the value of international experiences. Everyone who works in international education understands that leaving the comfort of your bubble leads to all sorts of skills that no other life experience can teach you!
What is the best story you've heard from a return student?
I love hearing about students meeting their best friend or even their significant other while studying abroad on our programs. When we are tagged on an Instagram post or receive an email thanking SOL for being a matchmaker, I immediately tear up! I don't keep track of the number of SOL weddings, but I'm sure we've had a few.
If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?
Hands down Argentina. It was my first SOL program and is such an incredible and resilient country. Being a Latina, it amazes me how different each Latin American country is. Buenos Aires is filled with so many interesting people and places. I was only 21 when I traveled to the city; I would love to go back now and see what kind of experience I would have.
What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?
Working in international education has been an incredible experience. Every person that I've met on this journey truly believes that having international experiences can help shape a person into a better human. The team that I’m so lucky to work with is no different. We’re all avid travelers and strive to give students the experiences we would have wanted for ourselves. We read every single review and evaluation in order to stay in touch with what students crave out of these experiences.
What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?
This is a hard question. I don’t believe there is one factor that leads a company into success, but I do believe that a nourishing work environment can make a huge difference in productivity and employee satisfaction. When a team member knows they are being heard when they raise a complaint or bring an innovative idea to their team leader, it helps strengthen their relationship. It encourages and reinforces the idea of a team, instead of a boss-subordinate relationship. I’m fortunate that the company I work for believes in an open-door policy and encourages growth!