GoAbroad Interview

Leila Hadi - U.S. Student Advisor & Postgrad Team Lead

Leila Hadi - U.S. Student Advisor & Postgrad Team Lead

Leila received her master’s of arts in museum and artifact studies from Durham University in 2010. While studying, she worked in the international office and began doing some recruiting. She then worked in museums when she moved home, but ended up working at Microsoft for a year as she missed recruiting. That is what Leila realized her passion was with students and education, so she contacted Across the Pond last year to see if they had any openings, and the rest is history!

Durham University graduate

Graduating from Durham University in my robes!

You’ve worked at a lot of museums, how did you get connected with Across the Pond (ATP)?

I actually used ATP when I was looking into grad programs abroad. I had started the application myself and found them inside the agent drop down menu, did some research, and contacted them to see if they could help. It was the best thing and I would not have had such a smooth experience if I hadn’t found them! I reconnected with ATP this summer, after four years, and am so glad to be apart of the team now. 

What does an average day as U.S. Student Advisor and Postgrad Team Lead look like?

Typically, I start my day by looking at the emails in my inbox. I will then sort by priority level, and get through the harder tasks in the morning when my brain is still fresh and rolling! Depending on the day, I will then usually have late morning meetings into early afternoon. In the afternoon, I try and catch up on data-entry tasks and less urgent requests. I will also use this time to Skype my students, if they request it, or have phone conversations. I then update my to do list and calendar with any tasks for the next day or into the next week so I don’t forget! 

What is your favorite thing about your role?

I can honestly say that I never have one day that is like the other! That is one thing that I absolutely love about this job, because it keeps me on my toes and allows me to be flexible with my students and their schedules. 

What advice would you give a first time traveler preparing for study abroad in the UK? What about a well-traveled student?

I was a first timer myself when I studied in the UK, so my advice would be to make yourself some to do lists! I am an avid believer in crossing things off and making my life easier. Make yourself a weekly to do list for up to one month before you depart. ATP has some amazing packing guides and webinars that we host, that help our students to prepare throughout the year.

For a well-traveled student, you may have packing down to a T, so I would recommend focusing more on the first week of your arrival. You can learn things about the city and surrounding areas, how the bus system is, how to get a railcard, etc. 

Durham University cheerleading squad

Durham cheerleading squad competing in Loughborough

What makes England such an incredible location for an international learning experience?

I think one of the first things that drew me there was the fact that we speak the same language!  Other than that, the culture is honestly amazing. I loved that I would walk out of my flat, and in five minutes I could be standing next to a 1100 year old Cathedral and Castle; there is nothing like that feeling.

Also, degrees in the UK are shorter than those in the U.S. They allow you to focus in right away on what it is you want to study, rather than having to take “fluff” classes. I could really go on forever about the culture, degree styles, and cities, but I think the biggest selling point is I still miss it everyday and it has been four years since I graduated. That should tell you something! 

What is the toughest question you have ever received from a student, and what was response?

In general, I think the hardest question I get is about funding. Education is definitely an investment, so I always understand where students are coming from. I try and let them know of all the different options right off the bat. Most students are actually unaware that you can use U.S. Federal Funding to study at our partners, so that is a plus when they find that out! 

View from Tower Bridge London

Standing on Tower Bridge London

Your academic background is in anthropology and museum studies, how do you use this knowledge in your current role?

Interestingly enough, my degrees really prepared me to deal with anything. Museums are small, non-profit businesses that are ever changing. Whether that be staff, the way they operate, or how they house their objects, essentially I was never doing the same thing there, and also wore many different hats; so even though I was a manager at a Children’s Museum, I was also an assistant, admin, janitor, caregiver, educational representative, and many more! This taught me to juggle all the different tasks I have at ATP, and also how to organize my schedule. I also have a lot of students wanting to study history, museum studies, archaeology, etc., so I am able to give first hand information on the degrees in the UK.

What is the most challenging part of your job advising students?

The most challenging part of my job has to be when students are not able to go to the UK for a variety of reasons. It is challenging because I want them to experience what I did, and sometimes the reasons are just out of my control. It is always quite sad when this happens, but  I always tell my students to keep in touch if they cannot attend this year, as there is always next year to apply!

You’ve been with Across the Pond for a year, what has been your biggest accomplishment in your role thus far?

I think my biggest accomplishment has happened recently, in becoming a team lead! I have actually always had ATP in the back of my mind as an employer, so when I got the chance to join the team last year it really was a dream come true. I love to help others, whether that be my peers or students, so being given the opportunity to be a team lead is amazing! I am very excited to see what next year brings.

Women waiting for a train in the UK

Traveling by train in the UK with my colleagues

What is the most fulfilling part of working for Across the Pond?

My favorite thing about this job has to be when I get an email or phone call from a student thanking me for my help, and saying how much ATP has helped them. It honestly makes my day each time that happens. I know how much ATP did for me when I was applying, so I always try to put myself in their shoes and remember how tough it was to apply and get over there. I even had a student send me a care package recently! It is the best feeling, helping a student from start to finish and everywhere in between.