Brooke Roberts has a long history of creating resources for professionals in the field of Study Abroad. Her latest creation is an online course designed to help aspiring international educators navigate the field and find their dream job. The course will also help established professionals further their career and get the greatest return from their skills. Learn more about what Brooke had to say when we interviewed her about the Global Pro Institute!
Brooke, you have a long and varied history in the field of International Education which included some years leading GoAbroad.com. Your latest initiative is the Global Pro Institute (GPI). Can you explain what GPI is and who would benefit from GPI?
The Global Pro Institute is the program that I wish existed when I was first starting out in the field. It’s a 6-week (online) roadmap to launch and grow your career in international education (IE). We dive deep into what it means to be a professional in the IE and meaningful travel industries. This is often one of the biggest roadblocks for returning students/participants. Being a participant is very different from being a professional. GPI gets you ready for the inner workings of the field.
We also focus on taking action to move your career forward. This involves how to position past experiences, knowledge, and skills in a way that make you attractive for positions in IE. Beyond that I share my own strategies for building and nurturing meaningful relationships, creating a professional brand and presence in the field, rocking the job application process, gaining real work experience, and building your knowledge and skills. And we cover it all in the context of international education.
I’ve designed the program for people just getting started in IE – straight out of undergrad or grad school, transitioning into IE, or even professionals in the field who are feeling stuck or pigeon-holed in their work.
You found employment at a university study abroad office, as a rep for a commercial study abroad company, at the helm of GoAbroad.com (arguably the best job in the field – wink) and as an entrepreneur. You did this all without GPI, why is GPI needed now?
Yes, I’ve had a great career and I’m proud of that! But what my “success story” leaves out is the initial struggle. After finishing graduate school, I thought I’d done everything right (multiple study abroad programs, interning in international offices, getting a master’s degree, going to conferences, doing informational interviews, etc.). I was sure I’d have people clamoring to hire me! But after 70 job applications in the study abroad field, I got exactly zero responses.
And this was almost 10 years ago. The field has only gotten more popular and more competitive. It was then that I knew I had to do more than check off some requirement boxes and just send out dozens of resumes.
And I learned by guessing, by observing how other industries and people approach career growth, and started applying those lessons to my own career.
It was a piecemeal approach with a lot of trial and error. I’ve created GPI to streamline these concepts, ideas, and strategies for aspiring global professionals.
Beyond all that, I decided I wanted to work in study abroad as a senior in college. I had no experience in the field (other than studying abroad myself) or had any idea what the work of study abroad was all about. It would have been nice to have access to a program that gave me a crash course and introduction to this work. I could have made a more educated decision about a master’s program or even understood the many career tracks beyond study abroad that existed.
Knowledge is power. And currently in our field, the only way to get this kind of knowledge is to spend a lot of money on a master’s, get lucky and get a job without a grad degree, or attend pricey conferences. My hope is that GPI becomes the bridge experience to help educate people about this professional world.
There are loads of online career tools, forums, coaching and courses, what makes GPI distinctive?
The three things that make GPI stand out from other options are:
1. It focuses on the international education and meaningful travel fields. Our professional world has it’s own little quirks and nuances that are important for people to understand as they launch a career in this space.
2. It comes with a built in coach (me!), an industry veteran and insider. I can relate to the roadblocks and challenges participants are facing because I’ve been there. I’ve also mentored and coached dozens of emerging professionals through this process and they’ve all seen considerable improvements in their professional options.
3. We’re all about community building and networking. Your relationships are invaluable to career growth in any industry – and international education is no different. Not only do we help participants more effectively reach out to people in the field, we are building a cohort of peers (that will someday be the study abroad directors, Vice Presidents at companies, and movers and shakers of this arena). There’s power in numbers and relationships. We’ve built it into the Global Pro experience.
Nearly every student who studies abroad sees the resident director and imagines that he/she is on a life-long study abroad program and getting paid for it. What is the reality of breaking into the profession of study abroad?
This is probably the biggest misconception about working in this space – that it’s one big 24/7 international adventure. While professionals in international education do get to travel more than, let’s say, a mattress salesperson, most of your time is spent administering international programs from afar (not actually experiencing them).
To break into any field, you have to demonstrate a more sophisticated, nuanced understanding of the work, who you serve, and what you create. Just because you have an Instagram account, doesn’t mean you’d be a great professional social media manager. The same is true for international education. Just because you loved your study abroad program in Italy, doesn’t mean you’d enjoy or be very good at administering education abroad.
That’s why I’ve created the GPI. If you think a career in this space is for you, but you don’t want to jump head first into a master’s degree or work for free for a year, this is a great way to get an introduction to the work to see if it’s a good fit for YOU. Because it may not be…and that’s okay. You shouldn’t have to lose precious time and money to discover that.
You say that a graduate degree is not always the best decision, with so much competition for jobs and so many postings requiring Master’s degrees, what is the alternative?
I’m actually pro master’s degree! I have my MA from Bowling Green State University (Higher Education Administration and Student Affairs) – Go Falcons!
What I’m against is people getting a master’s just to check off a box without really understanding what it’s for or how it will help them achieve their professional goals. You should invest in a master’s because you’re interested in the subject matter and the program can position you for the career you want.
I know so many people who went to grad school because it was highly recommended, only to find that they still weren’t a top candidate for jobs they wanted or they had to take super low paying positions that could barely cover their student loan payments.
We have a student debt crisis in the U.S. If you’re going to go to grad school, it should be a thoughtful choice based on your interests and goals. GPI is designed to educate people about the professional world of international education and how to position themselves for success, so they can then choose a grad program that is the best fit.
GPI is not an alternative to grad school. It’s a primer.
And for anyone who already has a master’s, GPI will help you figure out how to capitalize on your graduate school experiences/knowledge to make you a more attractive candidate in the future.
If the reader is convinced they want a career in “study abroad” and GPI is a first step what do they do first?
The first step is to sign-up, join the GPI community, and TAKE ACTION in the program. The #1 thing I’ve learned in my career, is that ideas and intentions mean nothing. It’s the execution that matters.
Action takers will see the most benefit from this program. I’m like your diligent big sister, pushing you to take chances and take action.
You can learn more about the Global Pro Institute here. Enrollment closes Saturday, November 14, 2015 (and class begins the 16th).
Everyone who studies, volunteers or interns abroad understands what a life changing experience it is and many want to share that experience with everyone! Give us one parting piece of advice for the aspiring international educator.
Don’t lose your passion! The process can be frustrating because you’ll hear “no” a lot. Tap into the transformative power of your own international experiences; don’t lose that wide-eyed wonder. As Lynn Anderson, one of my favorite people in International Education says, “You can train the head, but you can’t train the heart.”
You can’t manufacture or fake passion.
Hold on to it. And then figure out the roadmap and strategies to make your dream career a reality.
Thanks Brooke Roberts!
Brooke Roberts is the founder of Inside Study Abroad and the creator of the Global Pro Institute. From a decade of experience in international education, she now spends her time running her company Yoga Travel Tree and advising future global professionals on creating a career and life on their their own terms. Connect with Brooke on Twitter and Instagram as @thenewdorothy.