Getting Schooled in Social Media: The International Education Job Search
Does this sound like you? Full time student, part-time intern, maybe also holding a part-time paid job, completing a thesis project, while simultaneously finishing up final credit requirements to graduate—oh wait—and then there is that little something called the job search.
Well, that’s me. Hi! My name is Danielle Sleeper and I am a master’s degree candidate in the School of International Service at American University, pursuing a career in international education. I use social media on a daily basis to engage, connect with and learn more about my passion—facilitating international cross-cultural exchanges to help other communicate effectively and understand the world (personal branding statement! Will talk more about this later).
If you are a regular reader of Mandy’s Mashups, you are already aware of how platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Pinterest are changing the field of the international education. Having a handle on how to optimize these tools will not only boost your resume, but can also give you an edge in the job search itself.
Side note: I am, at this point, by no means gainfully employed full-time in the field of international education. Therefore, I am not here to teach you how to use social media in your job search. Rather, I am here start a discussion on what I have learned or tried using social media thus far—all of it an ongoing experiment in the job search 2.0. I look forward to your hearing more about your tips and tricks in the comment section below!
I have trouble talking about the “job search” as a standalone event in my life. In truth, it has been a year-long journey in establishing an expert presence, making connections, and building relationships along the way. And networking itself is just that—adding value to your community.
Experiment 1: Be a professional. You don’t have to have a job title to do this—in fact, being creative in how you define yourself is often more effective. I am an “intercultural specialist”. Why? It is how I can most easily explain what I do and what I believe in. In online profiles, and consistent across all social media platforms, I follow that title with my one-sentence personal branding statement and a clear photograph of my face. Some users are wary of putting “too much” information in cyberspace, but there is something to be said for under-sharing as well. Employers want to know who you are and one of the first things they will do is Google search your name. Let them know you are a real person and materialize your passion. That said, make sure what shows up on a Google search is professional—not photos from Saturday night’s party.
Experiment 2: Engage. I dove headfirst into the Twitterverse about a year ago and never looked back. Every day, I tweet about news headlines, trends, and stories in international education. I follow just about everyone and everything related to study abroad, cross-cultural communications, diplomacy, and internationalization. Over time, I built up quite a following of international education experts and leaders. The greatest advantage to Twitter is that it levels the playing field—I love that on any given day I can start up a conversation with the director of the Fulbright Commission or communicate directly with organizations like iEARN-USA or Cultural Vistas. Moreover, I can get a better sense of the company vibe and values.
Results? I was hired as an intern for Melibee Global Education via Twitter and communicated with Mandy’s Mashups for a long time before finally meeting Mandy in person at the Forum on Education Abroad Conference. Don’t be shy to reach out to people you don’t know—reply and message. And as soon as you can, ask for that informational interview offline. Rachael King writes a lot on the ABC Rule: “Always Be Coffee-ing,” a practice I am trying to make a habit. For an idea of who to reach out to, look at who I am following on Twitter. Bonus: a lot of these organizations tweet about open job positions.
Experiment 3: Offer something. I am a member of many LinkedIn international education groups, and though I cannot say I do this particularly well, I try to join in on conversations and offer resources to other educators in the field. For example, someone recently posted a request for resources on reverse culture shock. Having written a very extensive literature review on this last semester, I was able to send over my bibliography and other articles I thought were valuable. Another idea is to write a guest post for an international education blogger (check one for me!).
Experiment 4: Be innovative. Everyone and their host parent are talking about Pinterest nowadays. The great thing about Pinterest, I believe, is its ability to demonstrate who you are through images. When you look at my Pinterest page, for example, you will have an immediate idea of what I am about: intercultural exchanges, travel, culture, and…er…food porn (it’s all about being the real you, right?). I recently created a resume board as a visual gallery of my accomplishments, as well as another board of organizations I would like to work for. The idea is different enough to stand out at the moment, and I regularly circulate the links to these boards on Twitter and professional LinkedIn groups for feedback. Also, I should mention that Mandy has a great upcoming webinar on this. Be sure to check out “Pinterest for International Education” on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 2pm EDT. I know I will be there.
Experiment 5: Just keep swimming. My experiment in Job Search 2.0 has been quite an expedition. I continue to reach out to others, join conversations, and learn more about international education--all while finishing up my degree and other things. In essence, social media has supported my job search; it certainly is not the be-all-and-end-all. I recognize that the traditional job search is not going to change any time soon; I am still proactively writing letters of motivation, sending out resumes, putting together writing samples, conferencing, and interviewing in-person. Thank you letters are best hand written.
But social media has given me a voice I never thought I possessed. More to the point, it’s fun. Rest assured, my social media presence will remain strong even after I’ve scored my dream job in international education.
Where are you in your job search? How has social media worked for you? Any other tips you can give a recent graduate?
Connect with me at http://about.me/daniellesleeper
For other tools and resources in the International Education job search, check out my new Pinterest board! http://pinterest.com/daniellesleeper/international-education-job-search/
If you are interested in being a guest blogger please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org