Wearing a hard hat, goggles, and carrying a tape measure, Maggie found herself in the basement of a building one afternoon, on top of a pile of dirt, trying to determine whether there would be enough room for an outlet on the floor above.
“I never thought I’d be doing something like that at work,” she laughs.
But now it’s just a day in the life for Maggie, Project Manager for EF Education First’s Properties team. The EF Properties team is responsible for the acquisition, renovation, and construction of buildings for EF. Maggie is currently working on two projects in the North Point area of Cambridge, Massachusetts, where EF’s North America headquarters is located.
“I manage the coordination between EF, our architects, designers, and construction team,” she explains. “My goal is to make sure the new buildings are not only beautiful, but that they’re on time and on budget!”
Getting involved with construction and property management wasn’t something Maggie considered when she first started looking at EF. As a senior at Boston College studying German and International Relations, Maggie heard about a opportunity to shadow someone at EF for a day. “I had never heard of EF before, but the more I read about the company, the more I thought, ‘oh, this is super interesting.’”
Maggie spent a day over her holiday break shadowing a Boston College alum who worked at EF High School Exchange Year; Maggie immediately fell in love with EF. She put her job dreams on hold, however, when she accepted a prestigious Fulbright scholarship to become a teaching assistant in Hamburg, Germany.
“Everywhere I went in Germany, I saw EF,” she said. “I knew I really wanted to work at EF when I came back.”
A year later, Maggie got her wish and accepted a role as a Tour Consultant for EF Educational Tours, helping teachers bring high school students on trips abroad. Maggie admits the job was hard work, but she loved it—and the skills she gained along the way. “I learned about time management, how to juggle priorities, and presentation and public speaking skills through running meetings and trainings. I learned how to negotiate and influence people, and how to not be afraid of just jumping in and doing something.”
The knowledge she gained as a Tour Consultant was what helped her move to her current role. Maggie wasn’t quite sure what she wanted in a new job, but she knew what she liked. “I liked being strategic and managing things—not necessarily people, but projects.”
When the opportunity to join the EF Properties team popped up, Maggie knew it would be the perfect fit for her skills and interests. “Everything I did as a Tour Consultant was relevant to this, every tour was a project in and of itself,” she says. “I had been part of the Emergency Support Team, too, which provides 24/7 assistance to travelers on the road. On that team, you’re constantly juggling and reprioritizing calls as they come in, and you handle them. It related so much to what this job needed.”
Maggie says she spent the first six months just learning the language of construction, but now feels right at home juggling all the work that goes into building and renovating two new EF projects. “At any given time there are 100 different subprojects involved,” Maggie says. “It’s like managing a million tiny projects within two huge projects—IT wants a different fiber, someone wants window shades. But now I know a lot about industrial construction!”
It was how she found herself in the basement of an EF building with a tape measure. Some people may have shied away from the dirt and cobwebs, but for Maggie, it made work all the more exciting.
“I love the potential of my job, the potential that I can do cool stuff every day. I love that I get to be super involved with different divisions within EF, but that we get to work externally as well. We get to manage how EF is perceived by someone walking on the sidewalk or how a plumber thinks of EF. Those different levels of relationships are super interesting.”
Maggie smiles. “This opportunity turned my EF world on its head and launched me in a totally new, unexpected, and exciting direction. You have to be ready for anything at EF.”