From Student to Employee: My Life With CAPA

May 29, 2017 8:30:00 AM / by Julie Ritz

A CAPA Staff Interview: Emily Kearns

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Meet CAPA Florence alumna and admissions advisor Emily Kearns. Below, she tells us what it's like to go from studying abroad with CAPA to working for the company, how studying abroad made her more independent, and the three most common questions she helps study abroad students navigate.

CAPA WORLD: Tell us a bit about yourself and some of your hobbies and interests and where you’re from originally. What’s the coolest thing about living in Boston? 
EMILY KEARNS: My name is Emily and I’m originally from northern New Jersey. My family moved to the Philadelphia area when I was about 12, and I went to school at the University of Pittsburgh. I studied abroad in Florence with CAPA and I moved to Boston about eight months ago to start my role as an Admissions Advisor! The coolest thing about living in Boston is all the different areas that make it up- I love spending my weekends exploring the different neighborhoods! It’s also great that there’s always something to do or see. Some of my hobbies include: photography, playing tennis, reading, and of course travelling.

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CW: How and when did you make the decision to study abroad? What was the reaction from your friends and family?
EK: I made the decision to study abroad the summer before my junior year of college, after seeing my brother and a ton of my friends spend time overseas. I decided that I wanted to go abroad, but it took me a little bit of time to figure out where I wanted to go. I asked everyone I knew that studied abroad for their input and because of the endless amount of positive feedback about Florence, that’s where I decided to go! I had a large amount of support from all my family and friends, but they were definitely shocked. As a child, I was very shy and was always a homebody so the people who knew me back then were surprised at my decision, but also proud of me. My friends (especially the ones who have traveled abroad before) were so excited for me!

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CW: Where were the places you carved out as "Your Florence"? What was special about them?
EK: A few places that I considered “My Florence” were Il Pizzaiuolo (my roommates and my go-to restaurant. I still dream about the gnocchi…), Piazza Santa Croce (which we considered our ‘North Star,’ whenever we were lost), and my little apartment on Via de Macci, where some of the best memories of my time abroad were made!

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CW: Did your experience going on a CAPA program lead you to want to work for the company? Take us through the process from student to employee.
EK: After having such a positive experience abroad and realizing my passion for travelling, my career goals shifted a bit and I decided to start looking for jobs in the International Education industry. I was open to all opportunities, but since I really enjoyed my time with CAPA I was specifically seeking out jobs here and somehow it all ended up working out! It was definitely interesting to transition from a CAPA student to a CAPA employee but I think my experience helps me connect better with students.

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CW: What are three of the most common questions students ask and how do you answer them?
EK: 1) How will I pay for study abroad? – I tell these students that CAPA accepts most forms of financial aid that they already receive, but I also always encourage them to apply for our scholarships and grants, and to search for national scholarships or scholarships they can apply for through their school. Any bit of money helps and there are a ton of opportunities out there!

2) What courses can I take? – I typically will list courses to them that may be of interest (based off their major, etc.), but also will direct them to our website so they can look in-depth at the syllabi. From there, I suggest that they talk to their Academic Advisor to see how the courses will align with their academic plan and how the credits will transfer back to their home institution.

3) What kind of internship placement will I get? – This question is tough because our internship placements vary so much each semester and in each location, but I typically just describe the process of how they’ll send us all their materials, and our internships team will find a placement based off their interests, past experiences, career goals, etc. I stress that it’s a very personalized approach and that through this program, they’ll gain a ton of valuable skills that will help them in their future career path.

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CW: What’s the most interesting thing on your desk right now? What do you wish was on your desk right now?
EK: Hmm, to be honest my desk is pretty boring, but the most interesting thing is probably my box of ‘Happy Day’ cards. It’s a box filled with little pop-open cards that have a happy/inspirational quote on the inside. It’s a fun way to boost the morale on a rainy day, or just when we could just use a little ounce of happiness. It’s become an exciting way for us advisors to connect- each time we’ll switch off reading the quote in a dramatic way. It’s small, but adds a little fun to each day! Overall, I wish I had more pictures to make my desk “my own,” and some fun decorations to make it more colorful.

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CW: What’s your favorite dish to cook from your favorite country to visit?
EK: Any kind of pasta! As you can tell from some of my past blog posts, I really enjoy making different variations of homemade pasta dishes. My ultimate goal is to make a pizza as good as the ones I ate in Italy, but I have a feeling I’ll never even come close!

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CW: Favorite travel quote?
EK: “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page” –Saint Augustine

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CW: Where are the top 3 places on your current wanderlist and why?
EK: 1) Greece – For some reason, I’ve always wanted to go to Greece and this was a place I wish I made it to when I was abroad. Every picture I’ve seen looks like a painting, and I hope I’m able to see the beauty in person one day.

2) Cinque Terre, Italy – This was one of the top places on my list of places to go when I went to Florence, and CAPA even offered a trip there. I signed up, but unfortunately was very sick and was unable to go. I was SO upset, but I’m hoping to make it there one day!

3) Sydney – As a student I never really thought of studying abroad anywhere but Europe but after working at CAPA, seeing how awesome Sydney looks, and talking to students every day about it, it’s definitely moved up on my list!

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CW: Why is studying abroad important?
EK: Studying abroad is important because it forces you to step outside of your comfort zone and do things you could’ve never imagined yourself doing. It also allows you to see things from a new perspective, gain a stronger sense of self-confidence, and become much more adaptable to new and unexpected situations. There are a ton of skills and traits to be gained from study abroad, and it honestly varies from person to person. However, it’s without a doubt a valuable experience for all!

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Thanks, Emily!

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Topics: Interviews, Florence, Italy, CAPA Staff