Janae’s job takes her to different parts of the world every day. In one week, she might explore bear conservation areas in Japan, dracula’s haunts in Romania, and archaeological sites in Belize. As a Boston-based Customized Itinerary Specialist for EF Education First, a world leader in educational travel, she spends her time curating guided travel experiences for college professors and students. Combining research, sales, and creativity, it’s a dream job for a globetrotter like Janae.
“I create customized itineraries for professors looking to break the mold and add further academic objectives into their short-term study abroad programs,” says Janae, whose interest in international travel and social justice led her to the Peace Corps after college. That’s how the University of Connecticut graduate found herself in Swaziland, living on her own in a rural village. There, Janae ran youth development programs and sought out new adventures throughout Africa. When her Peace Corps placement ended, she returned to the U.S., hoping to launch a career in an organization that shared her for passion for women’s empowerment. Enter EF Tours for Girl Scouts.
EF Tours for Girl Scouts, part of EF’s educational tours division, creates guided travel experiences that help young girls gain new skills, perspectives, and confidence. For Janae, it was love at first interview. “The conversation flowed, and everyone I spoke to was on the same page, connected to the same end goals,” she recalls of the moment she knew EF was the place for her.
In her first role as a Tour Consultant, Janae worked one-on-one with Girl Scout troop leaders in Texas, guiding them through the process of selecting, recruiting, and fundraising for educational tours around the globe. Getting the chance to meet her troop leaders in person not only opened her eyes to life in different regions of the U.S., but also impacted her career path at EF.
“Until I took my first trip to Texas, I formed working relationships with customers over the phone. Meeting them in person felt like visiting family friends. Everyone was so excited to show me around their city,” says Janae. “When working in international travel, it’s easy to forget that exploring the U.S. can be super fun and insightful. I learned so much about the people I was working with and the cities they lived in by experiencing them firsthand.”
Janae’s trip fueled her desire to help more young people from the U.S. learn about the world. Soon after, she transitioned to EF College Study Tours, which partners with college professors and administrators throughout North America to create tours that bring classroom learning to life. In her role as Customized Itinerary Specialist, Janae works with educators to make travel dreams come true for students. Whether they want to put a new spin on an existing tour or come up with something entirely new (like a tour focused on the history of fermentation, for example), Janae is the person who makes it happen.
“It’s pretty neat,” says Janae, who likes to joke that Google Maps has become her best friend. “I’m always learning something new. Before I start planning a tour, I make sure I understand the professor’s main objectives, then I start researching, talking to our operations team, and putting together an estimate of the cost.”
Working through the logistics—how far can one group travel in a day, how should they get from point A to point B, and where should they stay overnight—is a creative puzzle that makes everyday work feel fun. The best part? Watching it all come together.
“I recently traveled on my first EF College Study Tour to Iceland,” says Janae. “It made me realize how much I love creating these programs. It’s so exciting to see the specific disciplines professors are working in and how interested they are in creating a fun and different experience for students.”
But travel isn’t just Janae’s 9-to-5. She’s an avid traveler outside of work, having visited eight countries in the past year alone. Up next on her bucket list? China, Australia, and Rwanda—to see the mountain gorillas, of course.