Staff Profile of the Month May 2010

Name: Cecilia Wang
Job Title: Service Center Manager
Joined EduGlobal in: May 2007
Home Town: Beijing
Education: M. Professional Communication,  University of Sydney
B.A. English, Beijing Capital Normal University

What is your role as Service Center Manager?

I lead the Service Center Team. We're primarily responsible for managing the Enquiry Management System, carrying out the follow-up to student enquiries generated from all EduGlobal promotions and client Chinese Language Websites. For a few clients, we've also been aproved to administer testing, so students are able to come home for Chinese holidays and take there tests in our office without missing too much course work.

How would you describe your average day at work?

My days change quite often, but I spend a lot of time distributing student enquiries to the right counseling team, monitoring our responses to enquiries and writing informative promotional articles that we've identified as points of confusion for students, based on the enquiries we receive.

It must be challenging to stay on top of the news coming from a client base of over 400 institutions. How does your team manage?

We're lucky that we have direct contact with some of our institutions; EduGlobal houses Institution Representatives, who are the go-to expert when it comes to their particular institution. The Reps are able to provide us with updates and information when we need it. I've also divided our team, so that one person is responsible for a collection of similar institutions. That way, they can concentrate on being the expert for their assigned area, and they don't have to worry about the others.

For other institutions, it can ocassionally be difficult. Many institutions know to provide us with newsletters and even digital resources in Chinese that allow us to collect the latest information very quickly. Not everyone has these kinds of resources, though, which is why it's always important for institutions to make brochures and websites available for us to consult, and to make sure that these are updated frequently.

Why did you choose to work in international education?

I mostly wanted to work in this industry for three reasons: Firstly, my academic background was in international education. Secondly, I really believe in the value of an international education. It can help not only individuals but entire families to realise their goals and dreams. Lastly, I believe that international education is important for an entire society. It can act like a bridge across cultures, teaching us about each other and ourselves.

What's the best part of your job?

Education is so important to the students and families we talk to. Most of them begin their questions with, "I have no idea what to study, where to go..." When a student chooses what you've recommended for them, if you've helped them make this difficult decision, that's a very good feeling.

You yourself studied abroad. Was it what you expected?

Somewhat. I'd say the biggest surprise for me was the different options I had as a graduate student. In China, the education system isn't nearly as flexible, and the program courses are very rigid. Even within class, I felt that I was expected to be more independent. In China, we don't often go to the library to search for resources and answers. Instead, we adhere to what the professior had taught us. This different education system took some getting used to.

Why did you choose to study Professional Communication, and why Sydney?

First of all, Australia is a really popular place to study, and Sydney is a great city. I love the weather, the beaches, and the life stlye. It's also really diverse, and I think it has the best of what both North America and the UK has to offer.

The University of Sydney has excellent programs, primarily based on research curricula. Because it's such a well respected instituiton, I was eager to go there, but I was looking for something very practical. Professional Communications offered courses I found really interesting and practical. We studied linguistics, for example, and analysed how language was used to shape media messaging.

So why did you decide to work in international education?

While I found my previous work to be interesting, I was drawn to the education industry. A strong education is so vital, and working in the industry allows you to understand and connect with people in all different positions, from all areas and backgrounds. I really appreciate being able to foster these relationships and being able to help guide the student through this difficult process.

With the growth of online activity among students, have you seen any changes in your work, or would you expect to see changes in the future?

I think so. Lots of students sought out recruiters by phone three years ago. Today, they mostly interact with us online. Students really support the online community environment; they like to shop online, schedule appointments online, etc. It's especially like that for international education and consulting, probably because it's so convenient. Students can register and log-in a question at 1 or 2am and get their questions answered by lunch time. 

We're also seeing newspaper fade out as the internet is becoming a more popular form of media, but with that, lots of false information is available. While students will continue to prefer to do things online, we're probably getting more questions now than ever before. We get a lot of questions like, "I heard this about this school, is it true.?" It's a big reason why a Chinese Language Website is so essential.

You deal a lot with students and institutions. What do think are the most common misconceptions?

Students focus a lot on rankings. US News, Australia 4 star, 5 stars, they don't understand it, so they think it's the only thing to base a decision on. They don't understand that some schools may not rank highly but have the highest job placement in the country for their particular program. They don't have enough information. To avoid being cheated, they follow the rankings. It can be a hard misconception to overcome.

As for institutions, it really varies based on the amount of experience they've had in international recruitment. Australian universities, for example, have for the most part, been recruiting in China for a considerable anount of time now. American institutions, though, are mostly pretty new to the industry, so they don't understand the agent relationship as well. They're concerned they're not getting to know the real student, so they don't always trust the information they receive. That's why it's my job to be sure both student and institution get the answers they're searching for.

Cecilia Wang, Service Center Manager