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Recruiting Intelligence

The Power of Recruiting – My Journey To The Netherlands


In honor of the Annual Nafsa Conference going on this week, we are thrilled to introduce a new Intead blogger to our community.

Emily Henry is an American living in The Netherlands. Originally from Missouri and earning her Bachelor’s at University of Missouri-Columbia (Go Mizzou!), Emily has just completed her Master’s in International Non-Governmental Organizations at Webster University located in Leiden, Netherlands.

As the Intead team navigates #Nafsa2015 and offers our 3 recruitment-focused presentations, we like to keep Emily and our other Intead staff who hail from international education backgrounds front and center.

This year’s conference has a record 10,700 attendees! 

The learning and networking that go on during this amazing week, the conversations we are having, are almost entirely about the business of academic offerings.

  • How do we make the operational elements work better?
  • How do we let students know the value of our programs?
  • With whom do we partner to deliver a better student experience?

And there lies the key: the student experience. Let’s stay focused on that as we talk about the business of education.

As a fundraiser at Child and Youth Finance International, Emily has worked with educational institutions across the globe. As an international student with a serious case of wanderlust, Emily has also studied in Chile and Rwanda.

Emily’s story as an international student has some interesting pointers for those in the field. Read on and please extend a hearty welcome to our newest addition to the Intead team.

~ Ben Waxman

My journey to study abroad started with an online search and a graduate recruiter with endless energy. After finishing my undergraduate degree in International Studies I knew I wanted a Master’s degree and I knew it needed to be abroad. Like many in my graduate cohort, I was specifically looking to go abroad but the question was where it would be and when it would happen.

My search was never global; I knew Europe was a great location to study from friends who had studied abroad during my undergrad. Word of mouth information can be great for international study. I searched for graduate programs in non-profit management, international non-governmental organizations, peace studies and development studies. The number of programs was eye-opening and daunting.

My searches led me to Masters Portal, Studentum, Find A Masters as well as many university websites. I looked into every program I found. Was it research-oriented? Who were the professors? Did it have the classes I was interested in? What were the costs? Were students successful in finding jobs after graduation? All of this is important. I have to admit, the easier the information was to find on the website, the more I looked into it.

After I had searched numerous programs, I began narrowing my list down. I was more interested in the culture, the city and the cost in this phase. I began researching everything from the standard of living to the weather of the city it was in. This part was difficult as it became more obvious that I may not get everything I wanted. I was choosing between programs in the United Kingdom, Ireland and the Netherlands. All the locations are known for being damp and cold. This is when the request for more information became the most valuable. I had a good idea about the programs, but what would it be like living abroad?

A recruiter contacted me from the Netherlands. He was friendly, knowledgeable and open to answering questions. His responses were the most personalized and timely out of the bunch. I recently looked back on the email thread; it was pages and pages. The programs and costs were comparable. What I needed to know now was whether or not I would feel at home at the university I chose. It is this kind of attention that helped me make my choice, and I was not alone in this.

Recently, over coffee with a friend, the two of us realized the same individual recruited us. As we talked about her decision to move to the Netherlands, fairly last minute, she said, “it must have been something he said.” After which we proceeded to talk about “Chris” like he was a close friend of ours. At that point, she had never even met him in person!

It seems a testament to a recruiter’s ability. I have specific memories about questions I asked, his answers and how they convinced me that my choice was the right one. My friend only remembers that he was easy to talk to and persuasive – not anything he said. In the end, what seems to be the unifying factor was his belief in the university, his consistency and his willingness to answer any question we asked.

So, if I made a list of the factors that helped me choose my graduate university, what would they be?

  • The ease in which I found information. I never would have known this was the right choice for me if I had not found it online!
  • The program offered. I chose between the universities that I felt had the best program for me. Professors, course offerings, costs, prospects after graduation, etc.
  • Personalized attention. I will not argue that the other two programs I was looking at were not as good, but I felt at home coming to the Netherlands because I knew I had back-up. This was not only the recruiter. The university’s support staff and study advisors were all helpful in different situations.
  • Digital media. I was able to find great videos online that featured interviews from students that gave me a glimpse into life on this campus.
  • The City. The location is something that is set for a university. Part of my decision was the fact that I liked this city’s small size, something the other universities didn’t have. Still, other factors made this a less than ideal location, namely the rain. No one denied the bad weather during the recruiting process but they did focus on the fact that residential halls were close to the main building and that this location is well known for beautiful gardens and historic centers.

Do your recruiting programs address these influencing factors well? Do you have recruiters working for you with the level of knowledge and passion I found during my search?