Founder Testimonial: Adventure EXPPosted December 17, 2021, 12:00 am by
We sat down with Adam Salzman, founder and managing director of Adventure EXP. Read on to hear what he had to say about the amazing benefits of gap year opportunities!
What was your inspiration for founding AdventureEXP?
When I was in college, I spent two summers living in China – studying at a university and interning for a startup –it was a life changing experience for me. Then I came back to campus in the U.S. and started working as a study abroad advisor and international student advisor, helping both inbound and outbound students have transformative experiences through travel. After college, I worked in corporate finance for some time, then made a career change and started working to bring international students to the U.S. for internships.
Over time, I realized that the program I was running was far more significant and impactful than a typical abroad experience because youth from around the world could come to the U.S. and work while they were here. Not only were these international students gaining valuable real-world professional skills and work experience, but they were also earning money to offset travel costs. This opened up doors for many international students who might not have been able to afford to travel to the U.S. because they were working to offset the cost of their travels. It was clear to me that there should be a similar program helping American students (gap year and college) travel to desirable locations while working to offset the cost of that travel. This led me to creating AdventureEXP.
What do you love most about experiential learning?
I love the challenges that are overcome through experiential learning and that regardless of the experience outcome, there are always valuable lessons to be learned that students will remember for the rest of their lives.
Describe your role at AdventureEXP. What is an average day for you and your participants?
I work directly with students and our partner employers to facilitate the program experience for all of our ‘clients’. A typical day for me looks like:
- Talking with prospective students to discuss how our program works and if it fulfills what they are looking for in a travel program.
- Coordinating interviews between our enrolled students and partner employers because all of our students participate in interviews before being placed in a program and with an employer.
- Vetting new employers in exciting locations to offer more placements to our future participants.
- Visiting students and employers during the program to check-in and host fun activities in our destinations around the U.S. and internationally
What does a typical student in your program look like?
We are fortunate to support a wide variety of students from many different backgrounds. A common trait across all of our students is that they want to travel to a great location and are willing to work to offset the cost of that travel. Our programs are designed to be affordable as participants will be working full-time during their travel experience. Some students participate with us for internship requirements at their university while other students want to learn about a new industry, and others just want to travel to a new location and explore their own personal interests and goals while working.
What do you hope such students will achieve upon completing their time at AdventureEXP?
AdventureEXP’s core mission is to help young people be more confident in their next step in life at the completion of our program. Our focus is to provide enough structure to guide our participants and ensure their safety whilehelping young people step out of their comfort zone and allow for enough independence so our participants can explore their own interests in their free time. At the completion of our program, participants should have spent time experimenting and refining their interests, have gained professional skills that are transferrable to their future career, and have additional funds that they’ve earned to apply to future travel and/or educational goals.
What has been one of the most impactful or memorable moments you've had during your time with AdventureEXP?
By far the most impactful moments for me are visiting our students while they are on their program. When students enroll with us, get their resumes updated and start interviewing, all the conversations are conceptual about what to expect and how best to prepare. While those are all worthwhile conversations that set our students up for success, it’s really rewarding when their skills and passions are applied in the real-world during their program, and we get to see them solve problems in real-time. Additionally, when students take on volunteer opportunities in their destination while working full-time or road-trip with their roommates to a nearby national park or city, it inspires us at AdventureEXP to continue crafting more transformational experiences to help our participants take an active role in their life and take time “on” to be the best version of themselves.