Suzan Guven became a globally-minded local student when, at age 11, she was enrolled at Robert College, an American school in her home city of Istanbul. In an international school, the local student body gains a global awareness as the expatriate community brings diversity to their school.
After graduation, Suzan moved to the U.S. to earn her undergraduate degree at Bucknell University. She returned to Istanbul and worked in investment banking, corporate strategy, and business development for eight years; she was head of a department and managed a team. Suzan found her way back to international education when her alma mater, Robert College, offered her a position in the college counseling department, her true calling. Suzan says,
College, university, and career counseling is a profession where I can apply my educational background and corporate experience, providing advice to students while they are making such important decisions regarding their lives after high school. I love how I can be a source of information and a mentor for bright and talented students. Moreover, staying informed and up-to-date about global university admissions trends is fascinating; it provides me insight on global current affairs.
The position as an international university, college, and career counselor has the same scope and responsibilities everywhere in the world, whether it is a school in one’s home country or overseas. Suzan says her job requires her to represent her own school in the best possible light to make sure that higher educational institutions know how prepared, hard-working, and talented the students are. To do her job well, Suzan must become very familiar with both her school and its region, wherever she may be.
Suzan first heard about Search Associates (SEARCH) when she was ready to pursue a position in an international school abroad and reached out to friends working in high schools around the world. She says,
Search Associates’ name came up frequently, and my friends informed me that they had the best experience of getting interviews and support throughout the entire process. I reached out to Bill Turner. He and Alison Turner have been extremely supportive and have guided me in between interviews and job applications. I have also found the SEARCH portal very insightful and informative. School profiles gave important information regarding the faculty and student body. I have had interviews and job offers through other portals as well, but the support I received through SEARCH, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, has been extremely valuable.
While searching for a new position back in 2020, Suzan found the SEARCH December Virtual Fair very well organized and was pleased to secure three interviews with three different schools, each in a different country! Meanwhile, daily emails notified her of new vacancies in her field. If Suzan saw a job post of interest, she combed the school profile to learn more about the student body and benefits package. Unable to visit the school immediately, Suzan found watching the school videos helpful in acquainting her with its campus, mission and vision as well as faculty body.
Suzan has worked in four different international schools in Turkey and the UAE and is currently at Universal American School Dubai, an international American school offering the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme and American curriculum programs.
The most exciting parts of Suzan’s work are informing the students and parents about global higher education opportunities and guiding the students through their application process to universities in North America, Europe, the UK, and Asia. Therefore, the perfect fit for Suzan is a college counseling position at a high school with diverse students who are interested in continuing their studies in different regions around the world once they have graduated.
Suzan’s schedule during the COVID-19 pandemic necessitates a 5:00 AM alarm to work out before back-to-back, on-line meetings for 70% of the day. The Calendly app synced to her professional Gmail account calendar organizes her appointments. Before and after meetings, Suzan composes and responds to emails and completes presentations for webinars and information sessions that she hosts after school. Being online all the time, with few breaks, has been extremely challenging. Nevertheless, Zoom, Teams, and virtual fair platforms for university fairs have been invaluable to her throughout the pandemic.
Though the decision to accept the offer at Universal American School Dubai was easier—she had visited the city during a prior vacation, and she had family and friends living in the region already—Suzan still researched the school and location before saying yes. She recommends that you do the same:
Learning about the culture of the country that you intend to work in is as important as learning about the school. Do extensive research, and use the tools that are available, such as job portals, teaching community blogs, and school websites before deciding on where you want to work.