SMG is an international consulting and operational organization with headquarters in Long Island in New York. SMG operates outstanding High School Programs in the USA, Canada and the UK.
ETN Focus: Please introduce yourself and tell us a bit more about your company?
SMG:My name is Sasha Brukhnov and I am the Marketing Director at Student Management Group. We are one of the oldest and largest High School Programs providers in the US offering 8 different options including Canada and the UK.
ETN Focus: What makes SMG the perfect choice for international students who are looking for a high school exchange program?
SMG: We have all kind of high school programs for all kind of high school students from 11 to 19 years old, with low and high budget with beginner and advanced level of English.
ETN Focus: What is the importance of diversity in your programs?
SMG: We work with both public and private schools and can find the best option for each student case by case based on the students request. Since our company has 43 Regional Full-time Offices we work throughout the whole country and can place a student anywhere in the US according to the student’s needs.
ETN Focus: Tell us a bit more about your international student recruitment strategy. How do you identify your target markets, and what kind of international students are you currently looking to attract?
SMG: We have partners in 45 countries and are proud of our diversity of students. For this current event we would like to attract more Italian high school students for all of our programs including J1 and F1.
ETN Focus: What channels and tools do you use to promote your programs internationally?
SMG: Workshops, fairs, office visits in various countries, social media, special promotions.
ETN Focus: Do you think having an agents network is important? How do you support the agents you work with?
SMG: Since we don’t work directly with students agents network for us is our core business.We help agents to grow together, support with trainings, materials, attend their events and solve all the questions asap. Most of our partners have been with us for many years and once we start working together with an agency usually it is a long-term partnership and friendship.
ETN Focus: What would you say is your biggest challenge when working with international students?
SMG:Adaptation process during the first 2-3 months since it is not easy for some teenagers to adjust to a new country, language mentality and food.
ETN Focus: How do you approach cross-cultural differences during recruitment, in the classroom, and after students complete your programs?
SMG: Every single student has a local Area Representative who will be happy to help and answer all the questions. Besides our Area Reps students can always contact our Regional Managers or Student facilitators from our Headquarters in New York. Before students arrive to the US, Canada or the UK our International Representative prepare them to be successful while in the programs. Once students are in the US our Area Reps and Regional Managers also offer a special orientation to help students.
ETN Focus: Are there any new markets where you see untapped potential for selling your programs?
SMG: Besides working with major countries such as China, Brazil, Spain, Germany, Thailand, Vietnam and others, we are always looking for students from the countries where high school programs are not popular yet such as Mongolia, Australia, various CIS countries.
ETN Focus: Finally, what is your vision for the future? How do you see SMG evolving in the years to come?
SMG: Technology is the key for our future and we are working hard in order to create, improve and implement various strategies, which will make life of our partners, students, reps and host families so much easier.