ISA (International Studies Abroad)

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ISA (International Studies Abroad) Reviews

Updated July 30, 2014
Updated July 30, 2014
29 Reviews

3.6
29 Reviews
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ISA (International Studies Abroad) President & CEO Gustavo Artaza
Gustavo Artaza
13 Ratings

Employee Reviews

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  1. 2 people found this helpful  

    Amazing people, valuable work experience, opportunity to grow within the company.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Regional Director of University Relations  in  Austin, TX
    Former Employee - Regional Director of University Relations in Austin, TX

    I worked at ISA (International Studies Abroad) full-time for more than 5 years

    Pros

    I worked within the University Relations department at ISA from 2005 to 2012, and I remain very thankful for the experiences and opportunities the company provided me during my time there. I made lifetime friends and gained valuable work experience that has helped me in my career tremendously since I left ISA. I was hired directly after completing my bachelor’s degree with little professional experience but a great deal of motivation and willingness to learn. Management recognized my potential and helped me focus my energy and skills, eventually placing me in a position where I can honestly say that I made significant and meaningful contributions to the organization.

    By far, the company's number one asset is its people. Being that a background in study abroad and international travel is a job requirement, every staff member has exciting stories to share and a passion for different people and cultures. This shared ideal amongst all employees creates a work environment that can be motivating and inspiring. Overall the staff is very young and extremely ambitious. While working with a younger staff can be energizing, it can also lead to high levels of turnover as young professionals discover what they want/don't want from their careers. This is something that ISA struggled with while I was with the organization. For this reason, ISA tends to have lower starting salaries for entry-level positions. That said, for employees at ISA that work hard, show initiative, make positive contributions, and stick around for longer than two years, there are plenty of opportunities for upward mobility within the company and very competitive salary ranges. With regards to employee turnover, there have been significant improvements in employee retention at ISA over the past several years, due to both exponential growth and improved employee benefits.

    Overall my experience with ISA was very positive. I was challenged, motivated, supported, and fairly compensated. I was given the structure needed to succeed, but also the flexibility and freedom to challenge myself and ensure that my workday was not mundane. I had a great working relationship with upper management and feel like I had their trust and support, as well as the ability to voice my concerns when necessary. Many of the negative comments people have made here with regard to upper management I feel come down to conflicting personalities/company culture. ISA is a growing company that has remnants of a mom-and-pop operation. The CEO and upper management are very involved with day-to-day operations and do have a tendency to micro-manage employees early on. This is something that changes once you’ve proven yourself to be a trustworthy and reliable employee. That said, those at ISA who struggle to build positive relationships with management or who cannot get past their initial involvement will likely not enjoy working at ISA. For those that can, there are plenty of opportunities for growth and advancement. As with any organization, there are ups and downs to working at ISA. It is my experience that employees who focus on the positives of the job and actively seek opportunities to contribute often thrive.

    Pros as cons of working with ISA can vary significantly between departments. Below is a list of pros as I see them for the University Relations Department.
    • Great people, with lots of travel experiences, stories, and positive energy
    • Fun and exciting work environment
    • International travel opportunities
    • Visiting college campuses across the country and promoting international travel, speaking of your own adventures regularly
    • Lots of travel benefits (i.e. miles, hotel points, etc)
    • Not at all mundane, work changes every day
    • Great vacation opportunities
    • Potential growth within the company
    • Creativity and initiative strongly encouraged
    • Great networking opportunities within the field of international education

    Cons

    Again, pros as cons of working with ISA can vary significantly between departments. Below is a list of cons as I see them for the University Relations Department.
    • If you don't get along with management, you will not do well.
    • Starting pay is on the low end for entry-level positions.
    • ISA does not pay for potential, but does reward loyalty if you work hard and prove yourself through your first 2-year commitment.
    • University Relations staff at other organizations often work from home within their region, allowing for lots of work/life flexibility. This is not the case at ISA. All employees work out of an ISA office in Austin, Denver, Lexington, or the Boston area. This is only a con if you do not wish to work in any of these locations.
    • In-office work schedule is not very flexible (no work from home options, 40 hrs per week in the office).
    • It's a lot of work and a lot of travel away from home, but if you enjoy it, it's not a con.
    • As mentioned previously, early on there is quite a bit of micromanagement. My experience is that this gets better with time and with earned trust.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    As the company grows it will become increasingly important and necessary for upper management to remove itself from day-to-day employee responsibilities and non-vital decisions. Empowering middle-management to make important decisions will help to ease the "micromanagement" culture that many struggle with and increase productivity and morale. Additionally, moving away form predominantly hiring "fresh-out-of-college" entry-level employees could help with turnover and save money in the long-run, even if initial salaries are increased. Certainly having a younger staff adds a lot of great energy and enthusiasm, which has helped to make ISA successful, but adding a mix of seasoned professionals could hep with professional development within the company and decrease turnover. This is something the organization was moving towards in my last couple of years with ISA.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  2. 1 person found this helpful  

    Rapidly growing company, great for entry-level experience, but high employee turn-around

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee  in  Austin, TX
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Austin, TX

    I have been working at ISA (International Studies Abroad) full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    ISA is a leader amongst other third party study abroad providers. With the recent acquisition of another major study abroad provider, GlobaLinks, ISA is making a name for itself in the field of International Education. The employees of ISA are committed to providing students with a great study abroad experience. My co-workers are some of the most interesting people that I've ever met, having done some amazing things at such a young age. This is a very young company and the median age is around 25, so this is many employees' first job outside of college. These young employees are given projects that allow them to build their professional portfolios and grow professionally. ISA's hiring managers see the potential in very "green" young professionals and help them cultivate their skills and find their passions. Recently, upper-level management have been going out of their way to promote higher morale amongst employees, such as extended lunches to watch World Cup matches, which has not gone unnoticed.

    Cons

    The commitment to the customer can mean that employees work extended hours and are not necessarily rewarded for that work, because going above-and-beyond is expected. The merger with GlobaLinks has been very smooth, but there seems to be a slight disconnect between the Austin and Denver offices (which will surely iron out after some time). Compensation and benefits leave much to be desired, especially when employees are avid world travelers and can't find the extra money or PTO to explore the world. There is also a very high turn-around of employees. In the short time that I have been at ISA, over 40 people have left the company (usually on good terms). As stated before, this is a great organization for entry-level positions, but it is easy to become stagnant in your position, so employees are forced to begin looking for opportunities elsewhere, with more potential for growth and better compensation.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Continue to find ways to increase the longevity of your workforce's time at ISA. You have been great with keeping your mind open to allowing young employees take on projects to improve our services, but be sure to not let the initiatives spearheaded by your employees go unnoticed. By simply adjusting compensation to cover the living expenses incurred by living in south Austin or giving additional PTO will surely increase productivity and the overall morale of your employees, resulting in more company loyalty.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  3. 2 people found this helpful  

    Good experience

    Former Employee - Global Ambassador  in  Norfolk, VA
    Former Employee - Global Ambassador in Norfolk, VA

    I worked at ISA (International Studies Abroad) as an intern for less than a year

    Pros

    It was nice working with the other ISA interns and planning small events on campus. I really enjoyed talking about my experience to interested students and answering their questions. ISA provides only minimal supervision to interns so most of the work/activities is based on the efforts of the interns.

    Cons

    Not too much to complain. It was a small pain having to do 100 hours first before you start getting paid. :( That is $100 more I could have earned. I thought that we would be working more closely with the study abroad office on campus but it wasn't so.

    Positive Outlook
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  5.  

    Inhuman company that does not value its employees or customers

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Manager  in  Denver, CO
    Former Employee - Manager in Denver, CO

    I worked at ISA (International Studies Abroad) full-time for more than 3 years

    Pros

    ISA is a place best suited for a fresh-faced recent college grad or study abroad alumnus looking to get a foot in the door in the field of international education. They are a growing and large organization offering many destinations and programs, and for those willing to give their soul and work long hours with lower-than-industry-standard compensation and benefits, it does offer that chance to gain experience.

    Cons

    Unfortunately there are many at this company. They have acquired two study abroad competitor companies, GlobaLinks Learning Abroad recently, and InterStudy a few years ago. Having lived through and experienced the GlobaLinks merger firsthand as one of the staff who worked for GlobaLinks in Denver, it is a classic case of how NOT to do a merger. While initially promising great opportunities for staff, continuing salary and benefits, and it would be two strong companies coming together to make the study abroad world a better place, unfortunately what was actually delivered was anything but. They indiscriminately dumped senior GlobaLinks Learning Abroad staff, reduced pay and benefits and in many cases made staff insultingly low offers to stay, had terrible or non-existent communication to staff, students in programs and university study abroad offices, and even worse, did not exhibit any trust whatsoever of the staff. Many good people quit because they couldn't wait to leave and get away from that type of treatment, leaving only a skeleton staff forced to deal with unreasonable workloads, contacted at all hours of the day, night and weekend, who were often belittled and dictated to. It was very sad and unfortunate that this was the approach taken, because it never had to be this way, and at the end of the day all ISA wanted out of the merger was to merely get rid of a competitor and add a few programs and countries to their destination portfolio. Even the ISA upper management are treated badly, as the CEO makes all the decisions and does not trust his long-time senior leaders, rendering them more a group of puppets than actual valued and trusted colleagues.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    It is amazing how ISA has grown to the heights it has given the poor treatment of its employees and business practices. Instead of picking up the phone and yelling at your staff or having someone do your dirty work Mr. CEO, try treating people with decency and kindness and actually trusting them. Paying staff industry-low wages and benefits, not trusting them, not empowering them, dictating at people, poor or non-existent communication, is not the way to get future employees to want to come and have a career. What people experience at GlobaLinks Learning Abroad in Denver will have long-lasting negative ramifications for business and relationships, and unless some serious soul searching is done and lessons learned and implemented from that, the outlook for ISA going forward is unfortunately a bleak one in terms of retaining and attracting staff, and keeping existing and developing new business.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    ISA (International Studies Abroad) Response

    Jul 18, 2014Director of Human Resources

    I am sorry to hear that your brief time with ISA left you with such a negative experience. Unfortunately, during a merger, some employees are not able to continue under the new structure. While we ... More

  6. 1 person found this helpful  

    Global Ambassador Intern

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Global Ambassador  in  Los Angeles, CA
    Current Employee - Global Ambassador in Los Angeles, CA

    I have been working at ISA (International Studies Abroad) as an intern for more than a year

    Pros

    Fun environment that teaches leadership skills and people who have a passion for travel.

    Cons

    Some positions require heavy lifting.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  7. 4 people found this helpful  

    Great Job, Amazing People, Awesome Benefits!

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Marketing Coordinator  in  Austin, TX
    Current Employee - Marketing Coordinator in Austin, TX

    I have been working at ISA (International Studies Abroad) full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    First let me say that I am a person who loves professional challenges and I thrive in a fast paced work environment with high expectations so I really enjoy my job at ISA.

    My first week at the company was a bit intimidating given the skill level and competency of my coworkers. I knew I was going to have to be on my game at all times and do some outside research to rise to the level of my colleagues which I did, and still felt like I had considerable room to grow.

    Looking back at my time at ISA after being employed for over a year, I can honestly say that my bosses and managers have truly been wonderful at hearing me out and helping direct my ambitions in a way that helps me grow both intellectually and professionally.

    You're never going to love every assignment that comes your way, but if I feel like I'm being pushed in a direction that outright does not appeal to me, or goes against the grain of my natural abilities, I've never had a problem going to my supervisor with my concerns which are always taken into consideration and in most instances, I get redirected towards projects that are better suited to my interests and professional goals.

    I mention benefits in the title so I might as well go ahead and say that the benefits we receive, from very affordable health insurance to perks like the possibility of travel, are outstanding.

    The employees are all well educated and well traveled which makes for an exciting work environment. Lots of young faces and great energy add to the creative spirit I have had the pleasure to be apart of.

    *Bonus* I don't know if this is supposed to be kept confidential but we do have a ping pong and air hockey table that are a great way to unwind!

    Cons

    *Working at ISA definitely comes with a large workload and an even greater amount of responsibility handed to your early on. It's kind of a "sink or swim" environment where managers try to feel you out and test your instincts and abilities but if you are able to rise to the challenge, then you'll rise through the ranks.

    *If you're looking for the corporate experience, you probably won't find it at ISA. International education in general is a field based on personal relationships so you might be looking into the wrong career.

    *I'd also note that sometimes people get tasked with multiple jobs that in-themselves could be full on positions at other companies. Some people find this cumbersome, some like the variety, but if you're not a multitasker, it's definitely something you might want to take into consideration.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  8. 2 people found this helpful  

    Stable company with a start-up vibe

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee  in  Austin, TX
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Austin, TX

    I have been working at ISA (International Studies Abroad) full-time for more than 5 years

    Pros

    There are a lot of positive reasons to work here. The office still has a start-up vibe which keeps things lite, but it's also been around for 25+ years so you don't have to worry about the future of the company like a "regular start-up".

    The people are amazing: you basically have an entire building full of language nerds and travelers, so conversations are always fun. The company is very dynamic and there's always something going on. There is also a lot of room for creativity and growth - no red tape like you find in a university setting - which is awesome.

    People here know when to play, but also know when to get their work done, and if you are one of those people who do not pull your weight, you will not succeed here.

    Cons

    One con is the vacation policy. For being a company full of vagabonds, vacation time was minimal, however that's recently been updated and is getting better.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Simply be honest and have open communication. Be straightforward with staff; rumors can run rampant so giving information before wrong information spreads is helpful and builds mutual respect.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  9. 2 people found this helpful  

    Excellent Opportunity for Hands-On Experience In International Education & Business

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at ISA (International Studies Abroad) full-time for more than 3 years

    Pros

    Working at ISA enables you to work with like-minded people who share your love and passion for travel. Depending on what part of the company you work with, it also allows you the opportunity to work directly with colleagues abroad and utilize foreign language skills on a daily basis. Helping others to study abroad, knowing first-hand how rewarding the experience is, makes working here very fulfilling. Being part of a growing, successful company also provides insight into the business world, which I wasn't particularly familiar with before working here, since most of my studies were humanities based. My work here is providing extremely valuable experience in the field of international education. Our leadership team is filled with self-starters, beginning with the CEO. Several people on the executive management team have been here for well over 10 years, and it is very inspiring to see how they have grown the company. There are many excellent role-models and mentors across ISA's leadership.

    Cons

    The biggest challenges of working here would be the compensation and vacation time. Since you're working for a company that promotes travel, a lot of negativity is generated by the lack of ability for employees to personally do so. This leads to a high turn-over, which I think makes senior management distrustful of employees. This is understandable, but makes things difficult for employees that love what they are doing and want to keep doing it. Austin is an amazing place to live, but is increasingly expensive, and without increasing employee compensation it's going to become very difficult to live here.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    I would recommend that management try to recognize that not all employees are looking just to come in, go on a site-visit or two and then leave, and hard-working employees that have proved themselves after 1-2 years should be afforded more respect when it comes to salary increases and increased vacation time. Additionally, trust your employees more and increase communication with them. It will help to stop the "telephone" style gossip that can be really distracting.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  10. 1 person found this helpful  

    Incredible opportunities for young professionals, as long as you put in the work

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee  in  Austin, TX
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Austin, TX

    I have been working at ISA (International Studies Abroad) full-time for more than 5 years

    Pros

    Working with a community of like-minded people who are all passionate about study abroad is a constantly invigorating experience. You will love working with these people, and you will genuinely feel like you are contributing to the growth of an amazing organization.

    Most of all, it is a FAIR working environment. If you work hard, are dedicated, and contribute to the team, you will be rewarded. If this is just a job for you, you don't help out your colleagues, and you're only in it for a paycheck, then go find a boring desk job somewhere. Yes, things can be chaotic, and if you're not willing to be flexible then you won't enjoy this dynamic environment. If you like making something out of nothing and creating opportunities for yourself, this is the perfect place for you.

    Cons

    The benefits are pretty standard, nothing special. Many employees complain that the benefits are not up to their expectations, but these are the same employees who are hired right out of college and don't realize what entry-level benefits are like at most jobs.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    As the company grows, don't be afraid to radically reorganize the structure of the company. What worked for a 100-person company probably won't work for a 300-person company.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  11. 2 people found this helpful  

    Growing company, amazing coworkers, great city

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee  in  Austin, TX
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Austin, TX

    I have been working at ISA (International Studies Abroad) full-time for less than a year

    Pros

    I work alongside some of the most inspirational people and value the connections that I've made since beginning my career with ISA. Many employees are recent college graduates, but are given responsibilities that most companies would never dream of delegating to someone in their 20s with limited experience in the field. Creativity and innovation are welcomed and encouraged, so the most successful employees are the go-getters. This is not a work environment for someone who wants to do minimal work and fly under the radar. Meetings with the CEO and/or upper management are commonplace, no matter your position in the company.

    Cons

    There is a very quick turn around and most people do not stay for more than 2-3 years. While many employees are avid travelers, the minimal vacation days do not allow for said travel.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    You have some amazing, dedicated employees and should take a look at compensation and benefits. After reading the other reviews, I feel like a broken record with my advice. Garner more company loyalty by rewarding your employees' hard work; it's sure to pay off in productivity and overall morale.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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