GoAbroad Interview

Hanna Maxwell - U.S. Recruitment Assistant

Hanna Maxwell - U.S. Recruitment Assistant

Hanna completed her undergraduate degree in English at George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon. After a brief study abroad trip to Ireland and Scotland, she knew she wanted to pursue graduate study in the UK. She completed her master’s degree in creative writing at the University of Stirling. While studying in Scotland, Hanna volunteered as a student contributor for the Across the Pond blog, and she was very excited to move into a recruiting role this year.

Girl walking down Abbey Road in England

Abbey Road

You are an Across the Pond (ATP) alumni yourself. How did you transition from participant to blog contributor to recruitment assistant?

Last summer as I was getting ready to go to Scotland, my advisor let me know that ATP was looking for student bloggers. Since I’m a writer, I’m always looking for opportunities to write and share my experiences. It was also a nice way to give myself some consistency; I needed to get a blog post in almost every week. The UK education system is much more self-driven with less structured class time. Plus, it ensured that I was getting out of my room and doing stuff because I knew no one would want to read blog posts about me sitting in my room trying to think up new stories to write. 

Toward the end of my year in Scotland, ATP let me know that they were hiring recruitment assistants for the 2015 season, and I applied for that. Having used ATP for my own applications, I know what a valuable service it is, and like blogging, it’s another way to tell people about studying abroad.

What inspired you to get further involved with Across the Pond?

Ever since going to college, I’ve wanted to work in higher education. Working for ATP allows me to do that while also helping students see the possibilities of studying abroad.

Eating waffles on a street in Belgium

Waffles in Belgium

What does a typical day of work entail for you?

A typical day on the road starts the night before. I look up the school I’ll be visiting, figure out directions, and prep all of my supplies. Then in the morning, I drive to the university, check in at the fair, and set up my table. I spend the next few hours talking with students and handing out prospectuses. It’s great because I get to talk about how fun studying in the UK is, and I get to learn about the students and what about it might appeal to them. If students want more information, I pass their contact info on to a personal advisor. The advisor then gives them more details about programs they may be interested in.

How do you use your own experience studying abroad in Scotland to better advise students?

When I first tell students about the possibility of grad school in the UK and how ATP can help them get there, they can be skeptical. It really does sound too good to be true! But I’m able to tell them how helpful ATP was for me, and about what a great experience I had getting my master’s degree in Scotland. I think it’s reassuring for them to know a real person who went abroad and came back with only good things to say about it.

Why do you think makes the UK such a great place to study abroad?

The UK has a fantastic education system, and they have some of the best universities in the world. Not only are you getting a great education by studying there, but because of all the historical places and ease of getting to them, you can have an amazing cultural experience as well. I loved visiting castles and famous monuments and immersing myself in Scottish culture.  And thanks to university holidays and cheap flights, I also was able to do a lot of traveling to other countries, including France, the Czech Republic, Spain, and Austria.

Plaza in Edinburgh, Scotland

Day in Edinburgh

What is the most extraordinary part about studying abroad with Across the Pond, as opposed to enrolling directly in a university abroad independently?

ATP makes the whole process so simple. I applied to one university on my own, and the application was so different from anything I was used to. I had to ask a friend from London to look over a few things, just because I had no idea what the admission office was looking for.  When I applied to universities with ATP, I never had to worry about answering questions incorrectly. I knew that my advisor was working to make sure that my applications were the best they could be, and they really simplified the whole process.

When speaking with students about the opportunities that Across the Pond offers, what is the most important thing you share with them?

I try to tell them that studying abroad is a life-changing experience. You learn so much, not just in the classroom, but outside it as well. Traveling changes you, and living abroad for a year, or even three to four years if they’re doing their whole undergraduate degree there, makes you a more rounded, culturally-aware, and independent person. There’s really nothing like it.

What do you think the biggest barrier is that students face in their journey to study abroad? How does Across the Pond help students overcome this barrier?

I think the biggest obstacle is knowing where to even start. There are so many options when it comes to studying abroad, and it can seem like an insurmountable challenge. There’s a lot to consider: which university is the right fit? Which program? What about funding? What do I do about a visa? ATP really breaks it down into manageable parts. Having that access to someone with experience studying abroad and interacting with UK universities is invaluable.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Students often know about short-term study abroad options, either from exchange programs at their universities or from their own travels. But I love it when I tell a student that they can actually go to a UK university and get a master’s degree in one year; they just light up. Most of the time it’s something that they didn’t even know was possible, and they get so excited about that opportunity. I love being able to tell them about how easy ATP makes the whole process, and they walk away with new possibilities for their future.