GoAbroad Interview

Kimberly Haber - General Manager

Kimberly Haber - General Manager

Kimberly Haber graduated from UCSB with a degree in Economics. Her graduation present was a backpacking trip to Europe, and the plan was to begin her MBA upon return, and she wound up staying for five years. A big part of how Adelante Abroad came into existence is due to those years of experiences living and working abroad. At every turn, and to this day, her life goals continue to include international travel – now that she has two daughters, she has permanent travel companions and drags, er.., takes them along every chance possible

Pre-Adelante Abroad, Founder and General Manager Kimberly Haber worked for the then California Angels, at Angel Stadium and also worked for International Franchise organizations in the education market. Her travels abroad and inspiration to stay abroad and throw her old goals out the window, inspired Kimberly to found Adelante Abroad and help individuals around the world gain international experience that will literally change their lives.

Mother and daughter in Chile
Kimberly with her daughter on their last trip to Vina del Mar and Valparaiso, Chile to visit Adelante program sites.

What exactly does your role at Adelante Abroad entail?

I am the founder and General Manager. My work is to connect daily with our international staff, search for new and better ways to enhance our programs, communicate with candidates who might be having some issues adjusting abroad, oversee our marketing efforts, come up with fun ways to engage future candidates (right now we are running a Video and Photo Contest, “Day in the Life of an Intern”, that has a $500 prize, for example), and just all of the other good bits and pieces that it takes to run a successful international business. 

How did you become connected with the Adelante Abroad?

When I graduated UCSB (University of California Santa Barbara), my graduation present was a three month Eurail Pass – so I started at the top, in Norway, and wound up staying for five years, eventually visiting most of Europe, and final-landing in Spain completely out of money, where I found a job.

My first job in Spain was working for a radio station, 103.3 Radio Onda in Nerja, I will never forget! When I returned, I wrote a book about the experience and one of my initial supporters suggested I start helping others do what I did. So, in 1999 Adelante was born and our first destination city was in Spain, of course, Bilbao in the north. After that came Madrid, then Barcelona, Sevilla and finally Marbella. Growth has been organic: once one program city was established and running smoothly, I would add another. Next came Oaxaca, Mexico, then Costa Rica, then Chile and then Uruguay. Ecuador is next, I think! 

What makes the Adelante Abroad’s programs different from those offered by other providers?

Well, we are certainly the most economical program out there, that is easy to see. Our specialty is International Internship Programs, and we do also offer a select few Semester/Summer Study Abroad programs. Then, by design we are a smaller firm, with a boutique, or custom mentality, versus a straight corporate one.

Adelante sends a couple hundred candidates a year, not thousands, and we get to know each candidate, sometimes their whole families over the program process. This also means that we can personally visit all of our housing sites regularly, our language schools are solid partners and our on-site staff are locals that have been with Adelante Abroad, in some cases as long as 14 years and our “rookie” has been with us for six years. 

Study abroad experiences often change a participant’s view of the world. How do you make sure students who apply to Adelante Abroad are ready for these life-changing experiences?

We screen, screen, screen – our application process is straightforward and quick, however we do require a one hour Skype or phone interview, and we check at minimum two references. We then provide pages of orientation materials that we make our candidates sign & initial that they have read. Adelante has no problem whatsoever in counselling a candidate out of one of our programs if we notice any red flags. For example, if there are a lot of questions about group activities or concerns about where roommates are from, well this person probably needs to do a semester or summer study abroad, not the more independent intern abroad program. 

In your role, how do you help students prepare for the experience of studying abroad?

I conduct the one hour phone interview and prior to that I am often the resource for any questions that our other staff might not be able to answer here. Running these programs successfully all of these years, plus my past and ongoing living and working abroad experiences make me a good reference point.

I am also blunt. Interning abroad, in a foreign country, for six months will most definitely look good on a resume and will absolutely change a person; however it is not glamourous. It requires homework upfront and ongoing willingness to live decidedly out of one’s comfort zone.

What is the best advice you can give students who are interested in applying to an Adelante Abroad program?

Call us. This office is a wonderful, relevant resource. Read the review sites, even the bad ones will help you learn if you are a good fit for our programs or not.

What is the most fulfilling aspect of your job with Adelante Abroad?

Knowing that each day we help people experience things that they could never imagine if they stayed home. I believe those experiences are beneficial at a global level: if every one of us were able to go live and intern or study abroad for three – six months, at least once, we would most assuredly be living in a more harmonious and inclusive world.