Over Spring Break, I traveled to New York with the Sophomore Shadow Program. A trip organized and paid for by Beloit College. In New York, I was hosted by Eva Crawford, a Beloit alumni who works at AFS-USA, a study abroad organization. Eva works in the marketing department with eight other people. I shadowed her for two days. During this time, I was able to learn about and work on some of the team’s ongoing projects.
Photo by Leeanna Shultz
The first day, Eva gave me a tour of the office. The office had an open floor plan and the windows overlooked the river. We talked with AFS employees in each department. I sat in on two meetings where I learned about their current projects and communication between team members. For the later part of the day I worked on student bios for the organization.
When students apply to study abroad they write a letter to their host family about themselves. Bios are constructed using information from that letter. My job was to make a cohesive short statement about a student’s interests and engagement so that they could be connected with a host family. This project involved editing and rephrasing, two activities I enjoy. Working on this project was a task of recognizing cultural differences. I was introduced to many activities that are common in other countries such as handball. This experience was excellent. I gained an understanding of the department’s work through experience. I enjoyed feeling useful.
The second day Eva had a meeting, so she gave me a project. AFS is redesigning their study abroad application for high schoolers. While she was in her meeting I had the opportunity to apply for a program through their new interface. My job was to see what difficulties I came across. Through this time I communicated over Skype with an ASF employee working on the project. When I would come across things that could be changed I would message him over Skype. If he wanted more information he would call on Skype, sometimes I would screen share. Working on this particular project I was able to apply my anthropology studies as I tried to come up with as many familial situations and gender identities as possible. It was really fun to consider all the possibilities, and what features would make the website easier to use.
On this trip I learned that I really enjoy marketing. Without this experience I do not know that I would have explored this line of work. In the marketing department at AFS I was able to apply my anthropology and sociology majors, my art background, and many other activities I like including editing, formatting, and individual presentation. This experience also introduced me to UX (user experience design) or UI (user interface) work, which I discovered I thoroughly enjoy. This experience was invaluable. I now have a greater understanding of various applications of anthropology and sociology, it also helped me identify skills I would like to develop in the future such as web design, computer shortcut keys, and full understanding of proper grammar.
I want to thank Eva Crawford for being a great host, Josh Moore for leading the New York trip, the Liberal Arts in Practice Center for setting up this experience, and Leeanna Shultz for taking great photos of the trip!