• Starting Points and Destinations

    Xi Chen & Ben Waxman

    (NOTE: This piece originally appeared in the Recruiting and Intelligence Blog of Intead.com, a company specializing in global and local academic branding. It is reprinted here with permission from Intead.com, a company that specializes in "Strategic Marketing to Attract, Recruit, Orient & Retain Students.")

         People always say your destination matters more than your starting point because what you have started might end up being a completely different path. It's more important that you focus on the destination. But to me, the starting point is as important as the destination, even though I'm still far away from my destination.

         Eight years ago, as a fresh graduate, I was so excited to accept an offer as my first full-time job that I almost ignored the exact position—a digital marketing associate at an education consulting company. At that time, I didn't know this offer meant I had knocked on the door of education, and it was the starting point of my following years in a career in the education industry. 

    From Northeastern China to Northeastern U.S.

         Born and raised in northeastern China, I grew up with ice and snow. The snow from October to May at Syracuse University wasn't that hard for me. But my study life, on the other hand, was not easy. I was trying to keep up with my studies while getting used to college life in the U.S., and at the same time worrying about finding a job after graduation. Majoring in new media management, 2012 to 2013 was a good time, with the robust development of Google, Facebook, and all kinds of rising social media platforms. Without hesitation, right after my graduation, I moved to NYC (technically NJ). 


    From Upstate NY to NYC

         My first month in NYC I was doing only one thing every day: editing cover letters and sending resumes. Though I had graduated with a master's degree in New Media Management, it was not easy for an international student holding OPT to find a legit job in the new media area. I kept taking interviews: SEO specialist, marketing specialist, or digital marketing coordinator.

         One day in August, I got a phone call. It was a phone interview, followed by a face-to-face conversation at a Starbucks in NYC. That was the first time I got to know Intead, an education marketing consulting agency, focusing on international education and global student recruitment marketing. With the international student population growing rapidly at the time, Intead was a relatively new marketing agency and also growing rapidly. The team was putting a tremendous effort into doing the client work and getting known in the industry.

         I worked for Intead during my whole OPT period and grew from having very little idea about digital marketing for global recruitment to having hands-on experiences managing the company's integrated marketing platform, practicing SEO, SEM, and paid search that I learned from my Newhouse classes at Syracuse. It was thrilling meeting with clients and participating in strategy-making processes, and so much more. 

         During the 12 months, I had the opportunity to do online marketing, email campaigns, SEO, learn a new marketing automation platform (Hubspot), and participate in app development. I was joining client visits and developing training workshops. I helped coordinate Intead's first-ever Global Marketing Workshop for Academic Leaders held at the sparkling, new SUNY Global Center at 116 East 55th Street in Manhattan!

    Even now I still feel the year passed too fast. That I really wanted to learn more and do more with Intead.

         This first job helped me transition from campus to the workplace and practice what I had learned while expanding my knowledge and abilities, and most importantly, officially introduced me to the education industry. After I returned home to China at the end of OPT, my first job in Beijing came to me instead of me looking for it.

    From NYC to Beijing

         After reunion with my family, I came to Beijing to start looking for a job. Unbeknownst to me, Michael, CEO of Intead at that time, recommended me at an education conference to a start-up founder who was looking for a marketing specialist. Thus began my three-and-a-half-years of work at an extracurricular activity education company in China.

         During this time, I had the privilege to witness and participate in the growth of a startup company, which went from 7 people to over 50, and I grew from a marketing specialist to the leader of a team of 15 people.

         Following that job, I found exciting opportunities with international publishers, international schools, and the world's leading STEM product company. Since my graduation from Syracuse, I have been deeply involved in the education industry, gaining experience in both B2B and B2C marketing.

         Looking back, I am most grateful for my experience at Intead. I can say that it laid the foundation for all my development so far, and I couldn't have developed and done everything in the workplace without the starting point and the knowledge and skills I learned at the beginning.

    From Beijing to?

         I was lucky to meet a good company, a responsible leader, a strong team, and an industry that inspires my passion. I'm also happy to have used this time to get down to business and improve myself, gaining transferable experience that has helped me get to where I am today. I may not know where I'll go next, but with this great start, I can work confidently toward wherever I go.

         So often, the starting point defines the destination, and you can’t see it until you get there.

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