Destination India: Inside International Recruitment at Illinois

Happy Fall Y’all!

So what really happens during an international recruitment trip? How do you get from point A to B? I’d love to share with you a little about my last international recruitment trip to India and hopefully provide a little insight into what really happens when Illinois travels abroad.

I’ll start off by admitting something…this was my first trip to India.  I was so excited to visit a new country and experience a new culture.  One of my favorite parts of my job is meeting new students from all over the world and learning more about their cultures.  I really had no idea what to expect for my first trip, but I was ready for whatever adventure or challenge was thrown my way.  International recruitment isn’t always a glamorous as people think it is.  One of the biggest challenges can be the language barrier or learning the cultural norms in each new country.  Traveling for work can be hard, so it is important to take time and appreciate the culture whenever you can in between visits.  I was fortunate enough to arrive one day before our visits started, so knowing I had a busy 2.5 weeks a head of me I took the time to visit the Taj Mahal.  Let me tell you…the pictures do not do the Taj Mahal justice.  It is gorgeous and massive.  I definitely recommend checking out the UNESCO website for more information about why the Taj was built. Here are just a couple of fun pictures of me in front of the Taj.  I will also add it was extremely hot and humid that day!

I feel very fortunate to have visited the Taj Mahal while in India, but onto the real reason I spent 2.5 weeks in India in August…recruitment for Illinois!  I started my trip in New Delhi. I traveled to India with a group of universities from all over the United States.  We each took a city in India and planned visits, counselor meetings, and/or college fairs. On average we visited 3-4 schools and some evenings we had college fairs or information sessions.  A typical day abroad starts around 6:00 AM (have to get up early to beat traffic!) and usually ends between 5-8:00 PM depending on what evening events we had.  It was so great to meet so many wonderful students interested in attending Illinois.  When we visited high schools, we typically gave a presentation on studying in the US and our various schools.  We would then leave time for a Q&A session and then we would host a mini-college fair.  This was a great way for us to get to know students and their interests, as well as help them learn more about the various applications, timelines, and requirements for different US institutions.

The picture above is from Modern School in the Delhi area.  We were in Delhi during the Indian Independence Day, so we were able to see various celebrations at schools all over the city.  After this Welcome assembly, we had a mini college fair.  Below is a typical college fair set-up. We saw close to 100 students during this fair.  It was incredible to see so many enthusiastic students!

We were able to travel to several cities all over India (New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, and Kolkata) during our trip.  We met so many wonderful students from all over this beautiful country. We typically rode in vans between each visit/appointment and then we flew between the various cities.  We spent a lot of time in cars and on planes, so I’m always looking for new books to download to read while I’m on the road (feel free to comment any suggestions you have). It was exciting to see so many different parts of India and learn about each region.  During our time in Bangalore, the team hosted a breakfast for international high school counselors.  We wanted to be able to share updates on our various schools and help answer any questions they had about helping their students apply to various US universities.

We had a great time getting to know them and thanking them for all their hard work in helping students achieve their dreams of studying in the United States. Beyond meeting all the wonderful students and counselors and answering their questions, my second favorite part of international travel is getting to experience all of the local food.

We had our local guide take us to get some of the staple Indian snacks/food while we were in each city.  Above you will see the team trying various snacks in Kolkata, India.  The next picture is the biggest Naan bread that I’ve ever seen!  I loved everything that I tried.  I am looking forward to returning to India in the spring to get to have some of my favorites again, and of course to meet more students. 🙂

I look forward to meeting more future Illini when I’m on the road again later this fall!  I love working with our international students throughout the admissions process, so feel free to reach out, no matter where you are in the world.

Go Illini!





International Recruitment Coordinator, Undergraduate Admissions
I work with international students throughout the admissions process. My biggest piece of advice for anyone going through the college search process is to ask questions. There are no questions too small. That’s why we're here!