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Lauren Anderson's Employee Profile

Program Staffing & Training Director

Lauren Anderson - Program Staffing and Training Director for Rustic Pathways

How did you get involved with Rustic Pathways?  

The summer after I graduated college, I accepted a seasonal Program Leader position in Costa Rica with Rustic Pathways. I had just graduated with a degree in Spanish & Economics, and I had a full-time job offer in healthcare marketing at a firm in Atlanta. I asked to push the full-time job start date back to September in order to have one last “fun summer”. I had studied abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina for six months during college and backpacked through Bolivia and Peru afterwards. I knew that Latin America was a region I wanted to spend more time in. I’d also always been a summer camp person and suspected there was a way I could combine both of these things into a seasonal job.

When a similar student travel company posted on my college’s job board, I started doing research into the student travel industry. Rustic Pathways struck me as a standout because of its mission, vision, and values. I applied for a Costa Rica position, did several interviews, and was hired! When I got on that plane to attend Program Leader training, I 100% thought I was going to work for the summer, fly back to the US, and begin my full-time “grown-up job” in healthcare marketing. Little did I know that summer would launch a 10+ year professional career at Rustic Pathways.

How long have you been working with Rustic Pathways?

For over ten years! At the end of my summer working as a Program Leader I was offered a full-time position as a member of our Costa Rica Team. I spent many years living there and working as a Country Manager before transitioning to a role at the global operations level. I am now the Director of Program Staffing & Training, which oversees all recruitment, hiring, and training of global Program Leaders.

How did you first go about getting a global perspective? 

Before I studied abroad in college, I had never left the country. Because I had a scholarship, I knew that study abroad would be my ticket to experiencing life outside of the US. Most of my peers were electing to study abroad in Europe or in English-speaking countries, but something told me to push the boundaries of my comfort zone. I felt like these places would likely be accessible to me for travels in my post-college adult life. It felt like I had a unique opportunity to do something more challenging.

I made an appointment with a study abroad advisor and asked her how far away I could go, geographically, and still be in a Spanish speaking country. She gave me two brochures for study abroad programs in Chile and Argentina. I chose Argentina. It was a fully immersive program that involved living with a host family, matriculating at a local university as a foreign exchange student, and spending a longer time in-country than the typical semester. It changed everything for me – my language skills, my cultural intelligence, and my global perspective.

What makes you proud to work at Rustic Pathways?

My coworkers are some of the most exceptional, hardworking, talented, and unique individuals I have ever met. They are what motivate me every single day. In the course of one workday I can be on video calls with our staff in Morocco, Tanzania, and the Fiji Islands. And that’s just one day! I really value the diversity of experiences, cultures, and perspectives represented in our organization.