Jana is an amazing woman who was working with university students in Wellington as an internship she designed for graduate school. She has been a great friend and is always happy to talk. Jana was the perfect person to meet on my travels because we have similar career goals. She has wonderful insights into the world of higher education and international studies. Jana’s bubbly personality makes her the perfect person to work in student affairs.
- Where are you from?
Born in NY, raised in SoFlo, currently in GA.
- Where did you go to university and what did you study?
I went to The Florida State University and got a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology, with a minor in Child Development.
- What will your master’s degree be in?
It’s a Master’s of Education in College Student Affairs Administration.
- Why did you decide to study student affairs?
I started off as an orientation leader. At my uni, you could only do it one time, but could apply to be a team leader for a second year. I applied and didn’t get the role. I was completely devastated! After some moping around, my roommate – who had been an OL with me – helped me to realize that I was upset not because I didn’t get the role, but because it was something that I didn’t just want for one or even two summers: it was something I wanted to do for the rest of my life. So, to test the theory, instead I got an internship at Kennesaw State University, working with Orientation and Transition Programs before my senior year. It added intense fuel to the fire and, after a whole heap of experiences in the field later, here I am today!
- What type of work are you doing in New Zealand?
I’m working at Massey University’s Office of Professional and Continuing Education, specifically with their National Expedition and Internship Programme. Essentially, we have a programme that has a 2-week study tour around the islands, coupled with a full course load, and followed by 4-week internship placements. There are 3 different groups with 3 different areas of study. I’m staffing the last tour, which is for Disaster Risk & Emergency Management. Before now, I did a lot of the behind the scenes stuff: market research, itinerary finalization, social media initiatives, orientation planning, graphic designing, and more!
- Did you have to obtain a visa to do an internship in New Zealand?
Yes, but since my internship is unpaid and less than 3 months, I came under a visitor visa.
- Could you explain the process of applying for that visa?
Visitor visas are obtained upon arrival. The U.S. is a visa waiver country, so I didn’t have to apply! I actually left to go to Australia for a few days and didn’t realize that I had to get a whole new visa on arrival. My 3 months is renewed!
- What has been the most difficult part about working and living abroad?
I think that the most difficult part about working and living abroad is actually going to be the reverse culture shock. While I do miss my friends and family in the States, I don’t get to see them too often normally, so it doesn’t feel very different. I do have family close to here and my friend group is growing. It didn’t take too long for me to get used to and understand the culture here – it fits my personality really well! American culture can be so harsh. Going back and re-adjusting is going to be really difficult.
- What are one or two pieces of advice you would give to someone who wants to do what you do?
Honestly, just know that, yes, you can do it. People tried to scare me out of traveling alone. So many people are scared to take the leap, whether it’s because they’d be doing it alone, or they’d miss their support group, or it’d be “too new”…but those are all of the reasons to do it. Challenge yourself. Learn. Grow. Have fun, dig deep, stretch, dream big. It seems terrifying and like you won’t be able to handle it, but you absolutely can. I’ve also recently heard that only 10% of doing something is actual courage or bravery, the other 90% is wanting it with your whole heart. Do you want to do the thing? Then go for it.
- Why is living and working abroad important to you?
As someone who is extremely interested in international education at universities, but had never had the chance to study abroad, I felt that I needed to experience it firsthand. I had been thinking of working abroad in that area for a while. I did a lot of solo traveling and couldn’t believe how much it added to my life, how much I grew. I feel that working abroad in that field will not only help me to continue on my journey, but also to aid others in theirs.