GoAbroad Interview

Ellen Carson - Operations Coordinator

Ellen Carson - Operations Coordinator

Ellen is an Operations Coordinator at GeoVisions, working on programs in Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, Australia, and New Zealand, as well as camps in South Africa and Thailand. She was born and raised in Maryland, and she received her bachelor's degree in psychology from Villanova University. Ellen lived in Philadelphia for a few years and worked in clinical research at the University of Pennsylvania prior to working for GeoVisions. In her free time, she enjoys volunteering with an animal assisted therapy organization.

How did you first find out about the job opening at GeoVisions?

My mom’s friend and coworker heard about the job opening from a friend and passed along my resume. Networking actually does work!

GeoVisions summer camp counselors in Italy

Ellen poses with some of the counselors from the summer camp in Italy

With an academic background in psychology and a professional background in clinical research, what attracted you to join the field of international education?

I’ve always loved to travel, and while working in research I was able to work with many different types of people. This job gives me a chance to combine my love of travel with the opportunity to work with people from all over the world.

How does your educational and professional background help you in your current role?

I got my degree in psychology because I’m fascinated by the different ways people think. I really enjoyed researching individual differences between people, and this role gives me a chance to experience differences between large groups of people. The skills I learned in psychology and research have really translated well to my role here.

What does a typical day of work look like for you?

Emails, emails, and more emails! I get to talk with people in Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and Australia every single day. I check in with participants who are abroad, reach out to people who just started their applications, answer questions, and work with our overseas partners to find placements for our participants.

Camper hugging her camp counselor

A camper gives her counselor a hug on the last day of camp

What international experiences of your own inspired you to help others go abroad?

Two years ago, my brother got married to an awesome woman who happens to come from a very international family. She lived all over the world while she was growing up, and both her parents are from India so she and my brother were married there. It was such an amazing experience and I loved getting a chance to share my culture as well as learn about the culture of my new family. I want to help others experience this type of cultural exchange, and GeoVisions gives me a chance to do just that.

What is your favorite part about working for GeoVisions?

No contest here. This past summer I had the chance to visit our summer camp in Italy as well as meet a couple of our partners in person. I fell in love with Italy, and it was amazing to see the product of all the planning that went into the programs. I got to see a day of camp as well as orientation for the second session. If I could have, I would have stayed for the rest of camp!

What do you think is the most impactful component of GeoVisions programs?

I think the most important part of these programs is that they give people the chance to get outside of their comfort zone and to experience something completely new (all while being safe and having support, of course!).

Something like this can completely change the course of a person’s life, and I love being a tiny part of that experience.

With a long-standing reputation in the industry of cultural exchange, what do you think the key to GeoVisions’ success is?

GeoVisions is very much a family company. Since we’re small, we’re able to take the time to work with every one of our participants. I think this focus on people is what sets us apart.

Camp counselors having lunch in Italy

Lunch after orientation for the second session of camp

Is there anything new we can look forward to in 2016 from GeoVisions?

We just started a new program in Italy where you can volunteer for two to four weeks. I’m really excited for this to start because it’s shorter than the majority of our programs, and there are many people who can’t travel for longer than a few weeks.