GoAbroad Interview

Dallas Boyd - Global Internships Manager

Dallas Boyd - Global Internships Manager

Dallas manages global internship programs at Intern Abroad HQ, where she focuses on helping participants to build their cultural awareness and professional competencies. Prior to this, Dallas worked within the team at International Volunteer HQ. Having lived and worked abroad for 7 years to develop her professional identity, Dallas now enjoys providing experiential learning opportunities to young professionals that enhance their skill base and help them reach their personal career goals.

How did you get connected with Intern Abroad HQ?

Intern Abroad HQ was founded by International Volunteer HQ, so prior to becoming the Global Internships Manager, I was a member of the IVHQ team and worked as a Program Manager for the Latin American destinations. International Volunteer HQ has placed over 70,000 volunteers abroad since 2007, so it’s an established and trusted company. But we recognized a need for something else - international internship opportunities that are affordable, flexible and high impact.

We wanted to ensure that internship options are sensitive to student budgets and easy to schedule. We also wanted to return the best possible results for the time and effort that interns invest, so we designed a unique reflection-based syllabus for interns to complete as a core part of their internship experience. We help interns to develop and hone essential skill-sets and competencies for any career, without breaking the bank.

Volunteer with children in Guatemala
Dallas visiting an education placement in Guatemala

What inspired you to work in the field of international education?

I’ll never forget how eye-opening my first foray into an unfamiliar culture was, when I did an exchange student program in China. I loved how much it opened my eyes and helped me to   realize just how much I didn’t know about the world. It was a wonderful insight into how impactful international education can be. I discovered that I wanted to develop skills needed to succeed professionally in work environments that are increasingly multicultural, and I wanted to lead a rich and inspiring social life. 

After completing my undergraduate studies, I looked for a short-term educational opportunity abroad that wouldn’t be too difficult for me to pay for. I wanted something that would provide me with enough structure, support, and social connections to help me find my feet. These are considerations that I still keep in mind today, when relating to how others might be aspiring toward making their own plans for an international education experience.

Describe a typical day at work for the Global Internships Manager at Intern Abroad HQ. 

It’s important to prioritize the applications and enquiries that we receive on a daily basis. Since we offer internships year-round, with rolling admission dates, we respond as promptly as possible to provide appropriate guidance and support.

We also provide dedicated support to those who have confirmed their spot and are in the process of preparing for their internship start date. This involves reviewing their resume, checking in personally via a Skype interview, providing guidance related to booking flights and travel insurance, and handling anything else they may request assistance with.

Girl shopping at the Maasai market in Kenya
At the Maasai market in Kenya, shopping up a storm!

Plus, as the Global Internships Manager, I work closely with our host organizations in-country and facilitate the reflection process that interns are completing as part of their internship. This means that we’re actively working to help interns develop skill-sets while they’re engaged in their daily tasks. I also keep abreast of industry developments and opportunities for us to improve the services that we offer. This may include opening new internships abroad, enhancing our value-adds, or continuously working to improve our processes around safety, sustainability, and responsible practice abroad. 

What do you think makes Intern Abroad HQ unique? 

We thought very carefully about what requirements a modern internship abroad needs to meet, and what the desirable outcomes should be. This includes considering what students are typically required to complete for university course credit. Therefore, we provide internships that are affordable, flexible, and that cover a focused reflection-based program.

Unlike other providers, we include weekly learning objectives and reflection tasks. These are designed to develop employability and life skills in the areas of communication, critical thinking, problem solving, self-management, teamwork, and global citizenship. We have also made affordability a priority, to ensure that our programs are as accessible as possible. Individuals can participate in our programs and gain tangible learning outcomes, year-round, from as little as two weeks. 

How do you ensure each internship fosters professional development?

Traditional office-based internships provide a wonderful learning opportunity, but experience in the workplace doesn’t guarantee that you’ll become culturally-intelligent or professionally competent. It’s something that has to be actively developed and worked on, and this is one of the key strengths of an Intern Abroad HQ internship.

We combine each internship with our reflection-based syllabus and weekly learning objectives. We cover themes related to professional and personal development, such as communication, problem solving, and cultural intelligence. With focused coaching, self-reflection, and dialogue, our use of thought-provoking topics stimulates critical thinking so that interns can be challenged to think outside-the-box and consider new perspectives. 

Tourist in Cusco with two local women and a llama
Taking a break on the streets of Cusco, while visiting internship placements in Peru

Why do you think global experience is essential in the world today?

If you’re culturally intelligent, you can adapt to new environments and thrive in multicultural settings. Cultural intelligence, which is typically gained through global experience, is a very important skill in the world today. Modern workforces and communities are incredibly globalized, and many employers specifically seek job candidates who can adapt quickly, communicate appropriately, and socialize comfortably with others. That’s why our take on experiential learning was designed to build cross-cultural skills that are universally transferable across diverse employment and social settings.

What career tracks benefit most from international internships in your opinion?

I don’t think that international internships benefit one type of career track more than another. Our goal is to provide an opportunity for well-rounded personal development, to build individual strengths, confidence, and social well-being. Regardless of what someone wishes to study or work at, a foundation of broad skills relating to a positive work ethic, teamwork, resilience, adaptability, self-management, and initiative is essential for any career.

Like anything, it’s important that participants also make the effort to put in what they want to get out, so I often remind our interns that attitude is more important than talent alone.

If you could participate in one of Intern Abroad HQ’s internships, which one would you choose and why?

I like that our internships give people a lot of entry-level opportunities, which provide the chance to explore passions, try something new, and get a feel for whether a particular field is right for them. I have studied international development, so I could complement that by engaging in our NGO support or even microfinance and women's empowerment internships. On the other hand, I know I could be of assistance professionally on a hospitality and tourism program. 

One great thing about an Intern Abroad HQ internship is that they are incredibly easy and cheap to schedule. Year-round start dates make them flexible, and short-term durations make them affordable. So, I could very easily be persuaded to spend several weeks on a number of different internships, in order to really vary my experience and see more of the world!

Tourist in Plaza de San Francisco, Quito, Ecuador
Exploring the Quito nightlife in Plaza de San Francisco, with Casa Gangotena in the background

What do you love most about your job? 

I don’t think I could really love a job or associate myself with it so publicly if I wasn’t proud of the company’s history, values, and goals. I’m lucky to be a part of Intern Abroad HQ because we proactively amplify development outcomes, while being as transparent, affordable, and human as possible. This is important to me because I know how hard students work to give themselves the best possible foundation for their future. I’ve been in those shoes before and I understand that it’s not it’s not always easy.

I’m in a position where I get to connect with people from all over the world and I love being able to have a chat, learning about what is going to work best for them and providing the resources and guidance that can really make a difference to their future prospects.