One of the privileges and pleasures of my work is watching colleagues connect with young Vietnamese who are interested in overseas study, be it at a fair, coffee talk, info session, or individual meeting at a hotel.
Traveling to Viet Nam and other sending countries is still one of the most effective ways to recruit students, especially if the recruiter is good, which most are. Sitting at home because of budgetary constraints or other reasons and relying solely on armchair techniques is not going to get the job done, especially in competitive markets.
From parents’ and students’ perspective, it’s a way to put a face to an institution, someone they can like, respect, and trust. Someone who will follow up, be responsive to inquiries via email, Facebook, and chat apps, and stay in touch.
Good recruiters enjoy their work. You can hear it in their conversations and see it in their smiles and body language. So can students and parents. Those who do not take pleasure in their work seem (are?) bored and disinterested. It’s obvious their hearts aren’t in it. Fortunately, these individuals are few and far between.
As someone who helps create opportunities for colleagues to meet with Vietnamese students and parents, I have the utmost respect for my colleagues who do this important work and know how hard they work. While the life of an international recruiter may seem glamorous to the folks back home, including exotic pics posted on Facebook, and it does have its rewards, it is time away from loved ones and not enough time for proper rest and relaxation.
In addition, Viet Nam’s evening is their morning “back home”, i.e., for those from North America, which means they have additional work to complete, including emails and online chats with colleagues.
US colleagues, especially in higher education, have the added burden of essentially trying to counteract the statements, proposals, and policies of their own government, now more than ever. Rather than providing support or not doing anything at all, the US government, through President Trump and his supporters, is continuously setting up road blocks that they have to get around or hoops they have to jump through. The end results are huge amounts of wasted energy and growing frustration.
The main and immediate job-related reward for recruiters is admitting a new Vietnamese or other international student who gets a visa and arrives on campus ready to begin her or his new academic and cross-cultural adventure. A potential long-term reward is the personal, academic, and professional transformation that many young people undergo after a rewarding and substantive international experience.