To kickstart this year of celebration and changing lives, we're thrilled to bring you a look back at GoAbroad's extensive history with GoAbroad's Founder, Troy Peden. Check out how times have changed, and how even after more than a decade, GoAbroad is continues to bring the best resources to travelers all around the world!
Fifteen Years is Like a Millennium in Technology Time...
Fifteen years ago doesn’t sound like a lot of time to someone my age, but when you consider what the internet was like in 1998 it seems like the stone age.
- Netscape was the #1 web browser in 1997
- AOL was the #1 email provider
- MySpace wouldn't be launched until 2003
- SMS/text messaging was invented in 1996
- Mark Zuckerberg was only 13 years old
- Twitter wouldn't be developed for 9 more years (2006)
- Pinterest wouldn't be imagined for 15 more years (2012)
In 1997 I was a study abroad advisor at the University of Colorado at Denver. I was the very first full time study abroad advisor and I had fallen into the position a few years earlier. I was working on my thesis on foreign student academic success and retention as it related to acculturation. The university had a faculty led excursion in Central America that had gone rogue and the Provost asked me to travel down and secure the universities assets and return the five students safely. When I returned, a study abroad position was created - I applied and entered the exciting field of study abroad advising.
GoAbroad.com is Born
As 1997 came around I was pretty comfortable in my position, and CU-Denver’s study abroad program was healthy and growing, despite the fact that most of our students at the time were graduate students with jobs and families commuting to an urban campus. We had found found a market for study abroad, and the coveted study abroad program of the time was a junior year abroad with many prerequisites. Also at this time, study abroad programs had all been designed by faculty - not the student (market) - and as a result the programs had a very limited audience.
In my office I kept several great books that were published by CIEE, including "Work, Travel and Study Abroad" and the "Volunteer Directory." I had in fact used the Volunteer Directory to volunteer in Europe a few years earlier. That year, though, CIEE got out of the publishing business. At the same time, a couple of colleagues were helping my office design a page for the university website. One afternoon it was suggested that we create a site to fill the void left by those great CIEE books and thus, GoAbroad.com was born.
The GoAbroad Commitment: 15 Years in the Making
Over the years GoAbroad.com has survived the dot.com boom, several attempted acquisitions, share-sell, and share-buy, from over 70 major competitor sites. Many were amazing, many were out for a quick buck. One early competitor had deep pockets and ran commercials on MTV, while another courted a VP away from Sony to head their operation. Over the course of every development, the GoAbroad team continued plugging along.
Over the past 15 years, GoAbroad has been dedicated to maintaining several commitments:
- In order to be a comprehensive directory, we have always provided free information
- To continue to provide new tools as our users have asked for them, from The GoAbroad Network to FundMyTravel, and many more
- To give back, the launch of the GoAbroad Foundation as well as our commitments to many NGOs has been a key satisfaction for everyone at GoAbroad
- To never have a program provider leave GoAbroad unhappy
- To make sure our employees share our vision
While we have had chances to sell and retire as recently as 2012, I cannot imagine another more worthy job than helping connect aspiring travelers with meaningful opportunities abroad.
GoAbroad in 2013 and Beyond
Over the years, there have been many changes for the international education industry. The recent economy has reduced for the first time the increase in key searches on Google for study abroad and volunteer abroad. Terrorism has changed the way we travel and, in some cases, where we travel. Still. there are a lot of reasons to be optimistic about meaningful travel’s future. More people want to travel to volunteer, teach, intern and study than ever before, and when the economy comes around they will be seeking those programs with a pent up demand of a couple years of waiting. The growing commercial market has innovated and created more programs that meet the desires of the travelers.
And in 2012, GoAbroad had its biggest year ever by many measures.
I have no idea what GoAbroad will look like 15 years from now, but based on the incredible changes I can only believe that the GoAbroad family of nearly 100 dedicated staff will be doing what we all feel is a fulfilling job: sending like minded people abroad to partake in the life changing experiences we have all enjoyed over the years!
GoAbroad… see the world and change your life!