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Jan
22

Alumni Conversations: Charles Li, Manager of Mobile Strategy at EF Education First (Part 1)

EF Education First, commonly referred to as EF, is a leading private education company, offering “every imaginable way to learn a language, travel abroad, experience another culture, or earn an academic degree.”

EF recruits at Dartmouth for the EF360 Global Management Trainee program, a hands-on program that provides one-on-one mentoring with senior leaders, the opportunity to learn the company’s unique entrepreneurial style, and the chance to oversee a major project central to EF’s business.

We sat down with economics major Charles Li ’12, an EF360 Global Management Trainee, to learn about his work and get advice on best practices to prepare for this type of unconventional management track program.

1. Tell me about the EF360 program.

For the 360 global management training program, you work with a senior executive who serves as your mentor and guide, and you begin by rotating through departments such as sales, marketing, finance and operations.   Trainees then work with their mentors to identify a challenging project or projects to lead which will have a tangible impact on EF’s business, and you spend the remainder of your first year as a 360 implementing those projects.

2. Describe your job.

Everyone’s career path is unique. I’m fascinated by mobile technology and did a great team project on mobile application development while at Dartmouth. I now work as a Manager of Mobile Strategy, and my 360 project within EF is focused on recruiting mobile developers and other “digital natives” to help drive our mobile business objectives.

Many management training programs at other corporations hire a large number of people to work in specific positions and weed out based on performance. The EF360 program works in reverse.  They hire a small number of people, identify their strengths, and groom them to fit a position that capitalizes on their interests and the company’s needs. Because we travel to each of EF’s global headquarters for training, we have an opportunity to work closely with a small group of management trainees who share a passion for education and the company cause. Yet at the same time, each EF360 is working on his or her own unique project.

3. What’s most surprised you about the position?

The level of responsibility. After four months, I am already hiring a team. I’m grateful for the responsibility.  It demonstrates a level of trust that EF has in its recruits, and that trust naturally supports creativity and collaboration both within teams and across product lines. 

4. Is it necessary to have advanced coursework in Economics, Education, or any particular subject area to join the EF360 program?

Absolutely not. We don’t hire skills, we hire people. We recruit at Dartmouth because graduates have the leadership skills, problem solving ability, and a can-do attitude.  The recruiters here would rather find someone with a passion for education, travel, and learning languages, and the ability to problem solve, than someone who is an expert at one skill and only one skill.

5. EF is known for having a really unique interviewing process? Can you describe this, and share a few tips on how to best prepare?

EF is looking for creative thinkers. I was asked “what is the best business to create using the items in this hypothetical box?”  I created a business plan.

Once you make the interview round, you begin a series of meetings with key leaders across EF business units.  You do not receive a schedule of meetings before you arrive at EF.  The first few interviews focus on identifying your strengths and specific areas of interest.  Then you meet with executives within several specific products with whom they think you will have the greatest synergy.

The best advice I have is to simply be yourself.  Hopefully you’ll bring a love of learning and a passion for education and travel to the interview too.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.dartmouth.edu/~careerblog/2013/01/alumni-conversations-charles-li-manager-of-mobile-strategy-at-ef-education-first-part-1/

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