GoAbroad Interview

Jessyca Latimer - College Relations Manager

Jessyca Latimer - College Relations Manager

Jessyca graduated from Northwestern University with a bachelor of arts in Asian and Middle East studies. Before working for IES Abroad, Jessyca worked as an assistant director of admissions at Northwestern, where she focused on increasing student diversity. Jessyca later worked in corporate sales for a health solutions firm before returning to her passion for international higher education. In her current role, Jessyca recruits and advises students looking to gain career and global experience through full-time internships.

Prior to working for IES Internships, your career was taking a much more corporate focus. What inspired you to get involved in the field of international education again?

I have a passion for language and culture study that started at a very early age. With more than 7500 known languages, I decided communicating in just one was personally unacceptable. Accepting roles in somewhat large corporations was easy at the time, but somewhat unfulfilling. When the opportunity arose to take my business and administrative experience to IES Internships via IES Abroad, the decision was easy, and it was the best decision I have made in a long time.

I find the knowledge and experience I gained over the course of a decade was extremely helpful in many functions of my position as college relations manager. But my passion is exploring cultures, learning new languages, and strengthening efforts to make individuals more adaptable to new experiences.

Attendees at the IES Abroad annual Conference, October 2014
Jessyca at the IES Abroad Annual Conference in October 2014

You studied East Asian cultures at Northwestern University. How does this cultural knowledge help you in your current role?

Although I did not study Chinese culture, I am currently advising students who will complete an internship in Shanghai. My cultural studies broadened my perspective and helps me have more effective discussions with students and campus associates.

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

One of my favorite things about working in this field is that there is no typical work day! One email, phone call, or business meeting can shape a full day or week. Whether in the office, home office, or business hotel room, responding to students and university associates is a top priority. I usually start my day by reviewing inquiries and resolving any pending inquiries. Travel and event planning is also of great importance, so I spend time reviewing my calendar, as well as our team calendar, to ensure I am making great use of on-campus opportunities and researching innovative activities that will attract more students to our program.

Being part of a new unit within an organization that has such a long and outstanding history and reputation, there is a great deal of reporting that I complete in order to make sure I am on track in managing my assigned region.

Girl outside the Louvre in Paris, France
Jessyca outside at the Louvre in Paris

You are the program advisor for summer internships in Milan, Rome, and Shanghai. What makes these three destinations great for international internships?

I currently advise for our summer internship programs in Milan, Rome, and Shanghai, three incredible world cities rich in history and culture, where there also exists an opportunity to learn one of the world’s critical languages. These cities can accommodate a variety of fields and interests, from business and engineering to fashion and tourism.

What sets IES Internships apart from its competitors?

IES Internships is truly committed to enhancing the lives and experiences of undergraduates without the pressure and stigma of competition students will undoubtedly encounter in their professional lives. We are so confident in our program that we guarantee each student intern a placement in his or her field of interest in any city! We are proud to be able to do so, with the long, outstanding history and existing partnerships of IES Abroad.

How does IES Internships prepare interns for their placements and life abroad?

IES Internships has an extensive pre-departure process for students as they prepare for their experience as an intern abroad. Prior to selecting one of our 10 international locations, we discuss career goals with each prospect to learn more about their studies, previous professional experience, and any other relevant interests they may have. Our goal is to allow students the flexibility to gain work experience in their field and location of choice.

Once they become an applicant, we closely assist them in completing the required documents, whether from their home institution or from the student directly. They begin to discuss their internship city in depth, covering everything from creating a budget and shopping locally to transportation in and around the city. The internship coordinator also communicates directly with each student to gain a greater understanding of their industry of interest and desired work environment.

One of my favorite business travel activities is meeting the students on campus for a pre-departure orientation. In these sessions, student interns ask questions in an open forum, and I am always impressed by the variety of individuals present, which leads to a robust conversation on preparing to embark on this journey.

Tourist in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France
Jessyca in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris

What is the most important thing you tell participants as they prepare for arrival?

I always encourage students to set expectations for themselves that will help them be open and adaptable to a new environment. They should set goals to communicate regularly with home, but commit to the experience and be physically, mentally, and emotionally available to live as a local.

You work with many universities across the U.S. What type of academic benefits do participants have in interning with IES Internships?

I am learning a great deal about varying policies of institutions across the country. Undergraduates are increasingly required to have internship experience, as well as an international education experience, which begs the question “how do they fit it all in?” IES Internships provides them the opportunity to complete both requirements.

With the amount of credits student interns can earn in one summer on our program, we are helping both our partner institutions and program participants eliminate the myth that there is no time to study abroad.

Our internship seminar helps students to put their experience into context with journal entries, both directed and free, and many seminar-related excursions that help them learn more about the culture of their new city. Without a doubt, and where applicable, the ability to study a new language is yet another incredible career benefit any potential employer will find attractive.

What do you enjoy most about working for IES Internships?

I love having the support of and access to expertise in so many areas and so many departments, and the incredible collaborations that take place. The opportunity to grow and develop as a person and professional is very exciting.