GoAbroad Interview

Kate Hilby - Program Manager

Kate Hilby - TEAN Program Manager

Kate Hilby is a Program Manager for The Education Abroad Network, working with students who are studying abroad in New Zealand. She discovered her passion for travel and international education while studying abroad with TEAN at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia. When she returned, Kate was a TEAN ambassador at the University of Iowa. After graduation, she returned to Melbourne where she worked for a university on the Marketing and Student Recruitment team before returning to the U.S. and joining TEAN.

You’re an alumna of TEAN’s Deakin University program in Melbourne, Australia. How did your experience abroad affect your decision to move back to Melbourne and work in Marketing and Student Recruitment for a year?

Study abroad students at 12 Apostles in Australia.

Kate at the 12 apostles with friend Caitlin.

I absolutely fell in love with Melbourne during my semester abroad – great shopping, food, sport, people, coffee, and nightlife – what’s not to love? I knew at the end of my semester that I didn’t get enough of Melbourne while I was there and had to move back after graduation. Going abroad with TEAN made it easy to seamlessly transition into life in Melbourne right after arriving, which made it much easier to move back after graduation.

You served as a TEAN Ambassador upon your return, what did you do on the University of Iowa campus to increase awareness of TEAN’s programming?

I had such a great experience with TEAN that I wanted other students to know about it and encourage them to participate as well. I would visit sorority and fraternities during their chapter meetings, host information sessions, table for hours at Old Capitol Mall on campus chatting with students that came past, present in lecture halls with 300 plus students and help with the study abroad fair. 

Study abroad students canyoning

Kate canyoning with a TEAN group.

What does your role as the Program Manager for TEAN’s programs look like on a day-to-day basis?

Everyday tends to be a bit a different, but in general I work with our New Zealand and Short Course programs. I work directly with students advising them on destinations abroad, course selections, housing, flights as well as preparing their applications.

What sets The Education Abroad Network’s programs apart from other study and intern abroad programs?

Besides the fact that we specialize in the Asia Pacific, and we know this region back to front, I think what also really sets TEAN apart is the focus on each individual student. For example, Team NZ has three people on it and each of us gets to know each student well, and we’re able to advise them on the best program fit for what they’re looking for. We see them all the way through the process from the moment they apply (and sometimes even before), to meeting them in Fiji for their pre-semester excursion, and then New Zealand for the TEAN orientation.

Study abroad students at One Tree Hill in New Zealand.

Kate at One Tree Hill with TEAN students.

Another thing that sets TEAN apart is that staff travel and experience abroad is a priority. We all have been able to go on site visits and assist with orientations in-country, which gives us hands on experience with each location. It is really beneficial when working with students, as we’re able to talk from first hand experience of our programs. 

What’s the most important piece of advice you would give to a student applying to one of TEAN’s programs in New Zealand?

My biggest piece of advice for students going abroad is to make sure you’re actively engaging in your local environment. Whether it be going for coffee with a classmate, getting a job or joining a club on campus – it’ll make your experience so much more fulfilling if you have memories with not only your fellow TEAN participants, but with locals as well. Part of this is sticking around your host city – of course you’ll want to travel and see as much of the country as possible, but there is definitely something to be said for sticking around on the weekends and getting out and about with locals.

The Education Abroad Network Staff at the Thai Festival in Chicago, USA

Kate attending the Thai festival in Chicago with other TEAN colleagues.

If you could explore another one of TEAN’s destinations, which one would you choose and why?

There are still quite a few locations within Australia and New Zealand I’d still really like to explore. Outside of those two countries, I would like to check out Thailand and release a lantern during the Buddhist celebration, Yi Peng.

What is the best part of working for The Education Abroad Network?

The best part of working at TEAN is hands down the people. Whether it is students, parents, advisors or colleagues, every day at TEAN I am able to interact with incredible people. I get to come to work in an upbeat and energetic environment with amazing colleagues who all share the common goal of helping students experience a semester or summer abroad.