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In their own words: Inside the EF Educational Tour Consultant experience

“This job has allowed me to become a business leader straight out of college.”

That’s Ben talking about his role at EF Education First.

“I market. I sell. I make business decisions every day,” he says. “I’m given so much autonomy and I’ve grown exponentially because of it.”

Ben is an Educational Tour Consultant at EF Educational Tours. In his position, he works with teachers in northern Pennsylvania schools to develop international educational travel programs for their students.

“The best part of my job is knowing the impact I’m making on the future,” says Kathryn, a Senior Tour Consultant who works with educators in the Atlanta area. “I firmly believe that creating global citizens will positively change our world.”

The Educational Tour Consultant role is one of the most popular positions at EF in North America, and it’s part of EF’s comprehensive Entrepreneurial Sales Development Program. Tour Consultants, or TCs as they’re known around the office, have ownership over a specific geographic territory in the United States and build their business how they see fit. Each TC is charged with combining business expertise and a passion for global education to deliver transformative international travel experiences to every student in any given territory.

“I’m constantly inspired by our customers and the work they do every day to change lives,” Kathryn reflects. “Whether I’m going down to Atlanta and walking through high school classrooms filled with pictures of students traveling, or I’m on an international training tour with a bunch of new Group Leaders, I’m constantly re-energized and reminded of the network of passionate educators we get to help every day.”

Meet three Tour Consultants based in EF’s Boston office and get an inside look at this dynamic role.

Ben headshot

Ben
Tour Consultant, EF Educational Tours

What were you doing before you came to EF?

I was at Southern New Hampshire University and came to EF straight out of college.

What attracted you to EF?

A woman who graduated from Southern New Hampshire University the year before I did had started working at EF Tours for Girl Scouts, so she referred me to EF.

But why I came to EF is so different than why I’ve stayed at EF. I came because I needed a job! I stayed for the students, the professional growth and the impact I’m having. It feels like what we’re doing is solely to give back even though we’re a for-profit business. I never get out of bed thinking I don’t believe in what I’m doing or I don’t want to go to work. The more phone calls I make, the more teachers I connect with, the bigger impact I have. That’s what drives me.

EF is a company that understands millennials. It’s young. It’s fun. It’s super collaborative. There’s no hierarchy, so I’m learning from and training people who are both older and younger than me. I have a lot of different interests and was looking for a company that understands where I am in life—a company that has a strong professional development program and can help me grow as a business leader. That’s what EF has been for me.

What’s the best thing about your job?

I love, love, love sales. I think it’s fun. I think it’s challenging. It gets me to think creatively. It gives me the opportunity to run my own business. That’s something I never thought was possible—to be given that autonomy right out of college. I’m trusted to run my business however I want to. I also love mentoring other Tour Consultants – whether that’s working with recent hires or developing new business strategies and problem solving with other people who have been in the role a couple years.

How has working at EF impacted you?

I tried so hard in college to read about the world and to be that traveled guy without actually doing it. Now, I live it. I’ve seen a lot more of the world. I never had the opportunity to travel and through EF I’ve experienced a lot of Europe, Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia. I’m going to Japan and China this year. EF has made me more open to new ideas and new people. I’m always challenging the way my friends and family think because I’ve had these experiences.

What’s something you’ve done at EF that you’re proud of?

I studied business in school and when I came into this role I thought to myself ‘why don’t I go straight to the top of the schools in my territory.’ So I started reaching out to superintendents in addition to teachers and that led to me doing the Tour Consultant role in a completely different way. I’ve now traveled with a group of superintendents to Finland and I’m really proud of the work I’ve done with them. I’m also proud of being able to grow our average group size—I’ve developed creative ways to help more students see the world and that’s exciting.

Any favorite EF moments?

One time when I was on tour with a group of students, I was talking with one student from Las Vegas. We were traveling from Paris to Switzerland to Munich and at the end of the three days in Paris I asked this student what her favorite part was so far. She said, “When I was on a plane the other day in Las Vegas about to head to Paris.” I said, “You were just in Paris for three days and that was your favorite part?!” She said, “Yea I’ve never left the country before.” I kept asking her the same question throughout the rest of the trip and she continued to say her favorite part was the departure day. She never thought she’d ever actually leave the U.S. That really stuck with me.

Kathryn headshot

Kathryn
Senior Tour Consultant, EF Educational Tours

What were you doing before you came to EF?

I studied political science at Santa Clara University and had a long-range plan of going into educational policy. Doing one year of service as part of that was very common, so I took on a partner teacher role in Boston Public Schools through City Year.

What attracted you to EF?

When I first moved to Boston from California, I went on a Duck Boat Tour to see some of the city. They pointed out the EF Boston office on that tour, so that’s how I found out about the company. I had been working a lot with underserved students in Boston Public Schools and I really wanted to continue to impact communities like that in an empowering way. I actually applied to EF Go Ahead Tours (EF’s tour product for adult travelers) first and during my interview I went on and on about working with students. They said, “We don’t actually work with students in Go Ahead.” Then, they referred me to EF Educational Tours and that’s where I knew I could have an impact by empowering teachers and students.

What’s the best thing about your job?

The best part of my job is knowing the impact I’m making on the future. I firmly believe that creating global citizens will positively change our world.

I also never thought of myself as a very corporate person. But this role is very much relationship-based sales and I enjoy that. I realized that me being a person allowed me to have a better sale. I didn’t have to change who I am for this job. In fact, it benefitted me to be myself. I’ve also come to learn that everything in life in sales. You’re always selling something: yourself, an experience, a product.

The decision-making powers you have in this role are unique. The idea that a 23-year-old can have their own small business and have influence on how the business moves forward is amazing: I’m generating leads, I’m deciding what to invest time and money in, I’m deciding who to go see in person, and I’m determining the ROI of my activities. It’s groundbreaking autonomy.

How has working at EF impacted you?

The biggest impact has been every opportunity I’ve had to interact with our customers. I’m constantly inspired by them and the work they do every day to change lives.

I never would have believed myself to be in sales. I have learned how to run an effective business and to really love what sales can bring to people: international educational travel! With EF, I’ve never had to sacrifice my long-term career goals of influencing educational policy with my short-term goal of growing and learning professionally. I’ve learned from EF that the avenues for influencing change in education can be more diverse and more immediate than just going directly into policy and working in the government.

I’d also had one international travel experience (to India) before coming to EF. I hadn’t even really tied travel to education until coming here. So that has totally shifted for me.

What’s something you’ve done at EF that you’re proud of?

I’m especially proud of the mentor role I play at EF—from mentoring my teammates on how to successfully navigate relationships with teachers and grow sustainable businesses to mentoring sales interns this past summer. I’ve been given so many different opportunities to mentor, coach and influence others and I’m so energized every day seeing their successes. This year, I’ve been a sales coach so I’m working part-time with the sales training team while still serving as a Tour Consultant and it’s been a blast helping new TCs navigate this role and maximize conversations.

I’ve also helped grow our United Way Ambassador program, encouraging young professional women to get more involved in philanthropy and local non-profits in Boston, then bring their passion back to EF to influence their colleagues.

Any favorite EF moments?

Every time I see someone I’ve coached find success, I feel a crazy amount of pride! There are two women on my team who come to mind specifically. They’ve grown into successful business leaders and mentors to newer members of our team. It’s so inspiring to see them step up and lead the next group of team members.

Peter headshot

Peter
Tour Consultant, EF Educational Tours

What were you doing before you came to EF?

I went to Saint Anselm College, then worked at Wayfair for two and a half years on the site merchandising team in the lighting category. I was doing high-level analytics related to customer data, analyzing trends and determining what type of changes to make to the site to get people to convert at higher rates.

What attracted you to EF?

I had a two-month stretch of interviewing after I left Wayfair. I learned so much during that time, because I always asked for feedback if I was turned down from a role.

I discovered that I really wanted ownership over my work. I didn’t want to have to wait on people for approvals or go through lots of layers. I wanted to be able to see something through from start to finish and to know I had a real impact on every piece of it. I wanted something I could bend until it breaks. I also wanted a company that embraced new ideas and new people—a company that would recognize new ideas and try them before saying they didn’t work, even if those ideas were coming from someone who was completely new.

Fifty percent of what drew me to EF was actually my mom. She’s a Tour Director for EF Explore America so she encouraged me to consider it. The more I looked into EF and the Tour Consultant role, the more I realized it wouldn’t be just a job—it would be something I could grow from, learn from and take with me the rest of my career.

That was the other 50 percent. I wanted a role that would impact me beyond 9 to 5. I wanted to gain skills I can take with me throughout my life. And that’s what you get here: What you put into it is what you get out of it.

What’s the best thing about your job?

Finding creative solutions to difficult situations or conversations. A teacher or parent might think we can’t do something but I love being able to tell them we can. Finding creative solutions to problems is one of my favorite things in life.

I also enjoy the fact that how I want to go about doing my job is completely up to me. It all boils down to having freedom. If you want total control over every aspect of your job, this is the place for it. It’s essentially like someone sat you down and said “I don’t care how you get there, just get there.” I can do this role any way I want as long as I’m productive, efficient and hitting my goals. I also love learning how everyone else tackles the role. I’m obsessed with collecting best practices.

I’m a super practical, pragmatic person. I’m not into traditional sales. You know when you can tell you’re being pitched to? It makes me cringe. But if it’s something I feel someone could actually benefit from, I’ll go to the ends of the Earth to make sure they benefit from it. At the end of the day, this role isn’t about numbers; it’s about getting kids to see the world. Instead of saying “I want your kid to read a book about the Colosseum,” I get to say, “I want your kid to see the Colosseum.” I don’t think there’s anyone in the world who could say that’s a bad thing.

How has working at EF impacted you?

It’s made me more confident in my abilities as a professional: in time management, in thinking outside the box, in empathy, and in my ability to buckle down and get things done.

EF reignited a spark in me. It boosted my creativity and fresh ideas. I enjoy coming to work every day. This role isn’t sales. Of course, at its core it is, but it’s also so much more than that. The skills I’ve learned from this job are not sales-specific skills.

The company also has the greatest culture ever. Everyone is super friendly and open. They’re amazingly adaptive and willing to adopt new things that benefit students.

What’s something you’ve done at EF that you’re proud of?

I’m proud of how much my territory is growing and how well my Group Leaders have responded to me being their Tour Consultant. I’m slowly but steadily building strong relationships both internally at EF and with my Group Leaders. I’m proud of the progress I’ve made in such a short time.

Any favorite EF moments?

I was recently talking to a new Group Leader who is taking 30 students on tour in 2020 and he said he was being contacted aggressively by one of our competitors for 2021. I said something along the lines of “I hope we can send you on this first trip and bring you back for the next one,” and his response was: “As long as you’re here Peter then I’m not going anywhere.” That felt pretty good.

Another repeat Group Leader was recently offered a loyalty trip to China and Japan and I was speaking to her about it. She said these kinds of things don’t happen to her. She was so thankful to have the opportunity and sounded so genuinely happy she’d be able to see the world and have a moment of relaxation. Her happiness admittedly made me tear up a tiny bit. It’s awesome we can bring her so much joy through one phone call.

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