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How volunteering led me to a global career in education: Maya’s story

Maya Butovskaya talks about studying MA International Education and Globalisation and her career helping students to go to universities in the US and Europe.

I've been working in education and living in different countries since joining the higher education field in 2017. I graduated from MA International Education and Globalisation (IEG) at Bath in 2013 and since then I have held many different jobs with non-profits and educational organisations. These have given me a diverse and well-rounded experience in my career so far.

Right now, I work in international student recruitment and admissions. My job is to help people from the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) region to go to the United States and Europe to study.

I work with students in countries in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, North Asia and Western Asia, where the options to go to big universities in different areas of the world aren’t always easy to find.

I feel very lucky because my job allows me to travel all over the world and live in different places. I have lived in Paris and Moscow since leaving my home in the United States, and have been able to experience lots of different cultures.

Learning that education was right for me

At undergraduate level, I studied Nutrition and Dietetics at Messiah University in Pennsylvania. I enjoyed it, but when I finished I wanted to take some time off to figure out what to do next.

During this time, I volunteered for an educational non-profit in Philadelphia called City Year. I worked with students in-class doing some teaching support, mentoring, tutoring, and after school classes. I ended up volunteering for two years before getting a full-time job with the organisation as my first step into working in the sector. After serving with City Year for several years, I knew that working in education was something I wanted to do.

Taking my next step

I wanted to do a master’s that would help me figure out which direction to take within education. I was looking to open up opportunities that I wouldn’t have with just my undergraduate degree.

In education, you can do so many different jobs. You can be a teacher, an administrator, work in recruitment, be involved in policymaking; there are so many different routes.

IEG helped me solidify my career choice and also figure out which direction I wanted to take.

Studying things I was interested in

There was a real sense of creativity and independence throughout the course. One of the reasons I chose IEG was because you can almost build your own programme.

You can choose lots of different units that you want to take depending on your interests. This means you can take your own journey to get the skills and knowledge you want for your career.

I felt empowered to go on my own path and pursue topics I was really interested in. The staff were very supportive, which helped me.

A collaborative, international environment

My classes were really interactive; you don’t sit down and get talked at for an hour at a time, there were lots of discussions and debates.

Because my classmates were from all over the world, they had different perspectives and ways of looking at things. It made things really exciting.

I learnt about education in the Middle East in countries like Qatar, right through to how people are taught and learn in Chile in South America. Often there were people learning with me that had experience or knowledge of what was being taught, so they could share their perspectives.

The sense of collaboration in the classes, and the whole of the Department of Education at Bath, was fantastic.

The class size I was in was fairly small. Because there weren’t many of us, I got to know people. If I ever had questions, concerns, or issues, I always felt like I could talk to people and overcome them.

That's something that I use in my job now, and all jobs I’ve had. Always reach out to colleagues, always reach out to your bosses; never try to operate in a bubble, because working together and learning together can make projects much stronger.

A picturesque place to study

Bath is just so cute and adorable as a city; it’s really picturesque everywhere.

It gives you joy that you are in a city that's very modern, but at the same time full of history. I thought that was a unique combination.

It's easy to get around, too. The public transport is good, but most places around the city are easy to walk to. Because of this, you don’t have to go to the gym as much as walking up and down the hills is a workout!

It’s a really safe place as well. I always felt safe studying here and every time I come back to the city it still feels the same.

I am very glad that I chose Bath as my destination to study for my master's. Not only was the degree worthwhile, but now I also have a city that I am so happy to come back to and to call my home away from home.

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