GoAbroad Interview

Ellen Knuth - Marketing Director

Ellen Knuth - Marketing Director

Ellen developed her love for travel through European adventures with her family, and ventured further abroad to Japan during her college years. After graduating she spent four years teaching in rural Japan through the JET program. Ellen is the author of Love Will Steer Me True (Loyola Press, 2014), a newspaper columnist for The Good News Paper, and a public speaker on a variety of topics, along with her work as marketing director at Panrimo.

You were a teacher in Japan before you joined the Panrimo team. How did you find out about the opportunity with Panrimo?

By a very strange coincidence! I was living and working in rural Japan, and on one particular weekend I flew to Tokyo for a friend’s wedding. Because I was the only foreigner attending who also spoke Japanese, they sat me next to an American guest who needed some translation help. This man turned out to be the intern abroad director at Panrimo and ultimately recruited me for the company when I returned to the States.

Neighborhood festival in Kotoura, Tottori Prefecture Japan

A friendly neighborhood safety festival in Kotoura, Tottori Prefecture Japan

You spent a great deal of time abroad before you even finished university. How did your own international experiences shape your perspective on the world as well as your career goals?

Perhaps the biggest worry for first-time travelers is how they will cope with being in a foreign place. Luckily, my parents raised my sister and I with a love of travel, so it wasn’t as intimidating to study and live abroad as it may have been without that background. Having a variety of international experiences and friends all over the world has led me to realize that one of my greatest joys in life and work is meeting and connecting with people from all over this place. This in turn led me to a career that gives me the chance to travel and urge others to do so as well. I think perspective-wise this has left me very open to other cultures, and that has led me to a career that emphasizes traveling and the pursuit of international communication.

Considering your own experience with international education program providers, what would you say sets Panrimo apart from other organizations?

Panrimo programs offer support without hampering the participant’s independence. By providing on-site staff, midweek hangouts, and excursions we make sure participants have structured opportunities to explore the host city, but also give them plenty of freedom to do so at their own pace and with the friends they’re making while abroad.

What do you enjoy most about working for Panrimo?

Panrimo offers a collaborative, flexible work space that is ideal for creative people. We’re always looking to improve on our programs and outreach, so if someone has a good idea and is willing to put in the hours, there’s a great chance that could become a component of our next marketing push or campaign. It’s the same with our program locations, if someone wants to really push for a particular country or city and takes the time to facilitate it, that could very well be where we’re opening next!

Panrimo staff member at The Ohio State University

Sometimes the job takes me on the road: Hello, The Ohio State University!

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

Coffee and a list of the day’s duties always comes first! The first hour or so I usually spend checking our various social media platforms or the projects completed by our intern. Then it’s on to emails and other administrative work to round out the morning. Afternoons are fun because that’s when I do the majority of the blog and copywriting for Panrimo material. Whether I’m writing for the website or for print materials and dossiers, I enjoy the challenge of bringing our program options to life through words and images. I have a carefully curated playlist of “writing songs” that helps me focus. In combination with other projects and work, this keeps me pretty busy until it’s time to go home!

In working with partners and participants, what do you believe is the most attractive thing about Panrimo?

We’re not a huge company and don’t aspire to be. Instead we keep things personal. If a student has a question, they know the name of the advisor who will help them; they’re not just talking to a random employee. Partners know that we aren’t providing them with faceless, nameless students and interns. They’re assured we have screened each applicant and have interviewed every person we send abroad. We want a Panrimo program to be comfortable for everyone involved in the process.

What type of support does Panrimo offer participants during their time abroad?

Panrimo employs on-site staff at every program location who are there from the initial airport pickup to the day when participants leave. These same onsite coordinators conduct an orientation to acclimate students to their new home and continue to help out throughout their program with midweek hangouts, excursions, and weekly emails. Whether it’s a housing problem or a medical emergency, Panrimo is there every step of the way. 

Visitor at a Malaysian temple

Malaysian locals told me letting the lion bite my hand would lead to good health. Verdict is still out.

How does Panrimo explain the power of travel to prospective participants?

One of our slogans that really sums up how we feel is “Travel for life.” Travel isn’t a one-off experience, Panrimo instead wants our programs to be an opening to a lifetime of trips and travel experiences.

When you travel for a study or internship program you are opening yourself up to a (literal) world of possibilities and potential. There is no better choice to make for yourself or your career in the current globalized economy.

Are there any new programs or destinations we should look out for in 2016?

Keep an eye on both our Iceland and Ireland programs as they continue to grow! Reykjavik is a great location and an excellent spot for higher level students interested in a hands-on environmental science program. Dublin, Ireland is set to become an intern abroad destination to rival London. Dublin is a lively, multicultural city and home to some of the biggest tech companies in the world, which makes it a prime location to get your international work experience.