As a new student, those first weeks at university can seem daunting. You’re in a new city, you don’t know anyone and you’re relying on the kindness of strangers to find your way around instead of getting lost in the maze-like campus corridors.
Throw into the mix being in a completely different country and speaking a foreign language, and the experience for international students can be even more intimidating.
This is where international student ambassadors (ISA) come in.
They are there to ease the transition for first-year students travelling across the globe to attend university. As international students themselves, they know how it feels, they understand the concerns and they have the answers you need.
Responsibilities of a typical ISA include fielding questions from current and prospective students about the university and application procedures, helping out at orientation during Freshers’ Week, welcoming students into halls and generally just being an all-round guardian angel for new and unsure freshers. Some even get to give presentations and run social media campaigns.
Most universities will offer this service and taking advantage of the opportunity to become an ISA can have benefits that extend beyond your university career.
Here are some of the top benefits of becoming an international student ambassador:
1. Looks great on your resume
It takes a range of key skills to be a great ISA. You’ll get plenty of opportunity to flex your public speaking muscles, hone your problem-solving skills and develop your teamwork. Not to mention your communication skills essential in the role.
These are all skills highly sought after by employers regardless of what industry you choose after graduation. Having ISA on your CV shows you can handle responsibility and are able to work with people from all walks of life.
2. Meet new people/networking
Being an ISA is a great opportunity to meet all types of new people. Not only will you get to know students from across the world, you’ll also be working closely with university staff and your fellow ISAs.
This could prove to be invaluable networking time and will give you a glowing reputation with faculty that could stand you in good stead when in need of recommendation letters or contacts for a potential position.
3. Get to know the campus and the university
Most universities offering ISA positions will provide training sessions and full campus tours to get you fully acquainted with all the nitty gritty of university life.
Even if you’re a second or third year, this can still be a great opportunity to learn more about the campus you call home and give you a deeper understanding of the workings of the university.
4. Earn extra pocket money
Some universities will pay ISAs. We know all too well the financial strain students can face, especially with international tuition fees. While this isn’t going to give you enough to retire on, it will be enough to keep you in pot noodles and cheese toasties for a while.
5. Help others ease into uni life
One major boost that can’t be overlooked is that you’ll be massively helping fellow international students.
Having a friendly face when you arrive at a new university can make a world of difference to how you settle in and how much you enjoy that first semester.
You could be that friendly face for a lot of anxious first-year students.
You’ll also be doling out advice that could navigate people onto the right path and reassure them when they’re having trouble.
6. It’s fun!
Probably most important of all, it’s fun!
Being an ISA means you get to meet new friends, try new activities, run workshops and help others along the way.
You’ll remember this highly rewarding role for years to come.