A world of opportunity
The scenic route to discovering a career in international education can be different for everyone.
For three of SAIT's international educators, the path to their calling was found beyond Canada's borders.
International Centre director Mark Butler - a born and raised Canadian - started on the international education path after obtaining an MBA and working for Bow Valley College before pushing for further involvement in developmental projects across the world. Always interested in traveling, Butler realized this could be a career path when he returned from the West Bank and Gaza where he assisted instructors with modernizing curriculum.
Yuko Simms moved to Canada from Tokyo after meeting her husband on a trip to Vancouver during her second year of studying commerce in university. The community relations advisor for the International Centre has found her previous experience as an accounting student at SAIT resonates with incoming students.
As for Victoria Edwards, project coordinator, educational relationships and study abroad, immersing herself in Mexican culture as an English teacher was when the travel bug first bit. The law graduate from Birmingham, England was looking for a change. Thinking "why not?" she moved to Canada for her role in SAIT's Study Abroad office. She now helps students obtain their own international perspective.
The trio's route to working in international education may be different, but they're on the same page when talking about the rewards that have come from their careers and the importance of positioning SAIT on a global platform.
What does your day-to-day work look like?
Butler: "My job is to move boulders out of the way for my staff to ensure we meet our goals and stay within our priorities. I'm always looking for ways we can grow, diversify, support students and develop as an institution."
Simms: "I'm here to support international students when they first come to SAIT, all the way through to graduation and those looking for permanent residency afterwards."
Edwards: "We work with students, staff and faculty to discuss Study Abroad opportunities while establishing new partnerships for short-term and semester-exchange programs."
What qualifications are required to work in international education?
Butler: "A blend between international experience and applicable skills. It's nice to have the soft skills you develop by living or travelling internationally, but also having the hard skills you'd attain by taking a formal program."
How does international experience benefit staff and students?
Edwards: "Staff are able to network with individuals outside of their familiar parameters. After hearing others' best practices, they're able to work with their students in a different capacity. For students, they're more confident in communicating across different cultures. They work easily with people and recognize not everyone sees the world in the same way."
How do you overcome cultural barriers?
Simms: "It's about trial and error. It can be challenging to learn a new culture, but by interacting with a diverse population you're able to grow simply from day-to-day interactions."
Favourite aspects of the job?
Butler: "I love the cultural interactions. Working in an international environment is so rewarding."
Simms: "Graduation. It's heartwarming to see a student at orientation walk the stage a few years later."
Edwards: "Seeing the change in students and how they've become more confident is definitely my favourite."
You can broaden your global perspective by participating in International Education Week events, taking place Nov. 13 - 16.