Mandy’s Mashups

Keeping Up with Social Media

08/20/2012                                                                                                                                                             6 Comments

This is my first post related to social media in quite a while.  My lapse is due to my hectic travel schedule this summer.  In a 4.5 week period I traveled to The Gambia (in West Africa), Senegal, Sri Lanka, and India.  I definitely raked up the mileage.  I am also leaving again this weekend for another 3.5 week stint overseas.  Never a dull moment.  (If you want to read about my adventures abroad check out my travel blog).

That brings me to the topic of this blog.  The basic question I am discussing in this blog is – Do you find it difficult to keep up with all the different social media tools, apps, etc. out there?

I will freely admit that I find it extremely difficult to keep up with all the changes with social media.  Sometimes it changes by the minute.  I think of myself as somewhat savvy when it comes to social media and even I find it difficult to stay abreast of best practices as it relates to social media and especially, international education.  (For more on the topic of being a social media expert see my colleague’s, @ericstoller, blog on this topic.)  I do not think of myself as a social media expert, even though many refer to me as that.  For me social media is a hobby.  I fell into and enjoy learning about it. 

However, right now it seems that every day there is a new form of social media being published and everyone is expected to jump on board and start using it.  I don’t feel the need to do this.  I know that sounds strange for someone who enjoys social media but I think there is a finite amount of time in my day (I do have a full-time job not related to social media) and I need to spend that time wisely.

In addition, my philosophy as it relates to social media (not necessarily everything in my life) is that I would rather fully understand and be good at only a few of the more well-used technologies than no a little bit about many social media tools but  not be able to effectively use any of them.  Your thoughts on this?

Jumping on the social media bandwagon does not mean you have to know everything about every social media tool.  To me it means being willing to understand how to use it, having a goal for using social media, and being consistent with its use.  People have and do make a full time job out of social media.  However, for most of us, we just want and need to know how to use it effectively and efficiently and will never fully understand, or want to understand, all the social media tools out there.

In the end, my advice for those using or thinking about using social media is to have a goal for wanting to learn how to use it, have an open mind, and be both patient and consistent with its use.  Remember you get out of social media what you put it. 

With that being said what are your favorite social media tools?  What are your favorite uses for various social media tools?  Also, are there any new social media tools that you have found to be particularly useful?

More later!

Guest Blog – Using Social Media in the Job Search

05/08/2012                                                                                                                                                14 Comments

Here is the latest installment in my series of guest bloggers.  This is from Danielle Sleeper who is currently a graduate student seeking a career in international education.  Here is how she is using social media to aid in her job search.

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?

For other tools and resources in the International Education job search, check out my new Pinterest board!

Danielle Sleeper has made somewhat of a profession out of being a full-time student, now pursuing a Masters in International Communication at American University in Washington, DC. Her personal experience studying, working and traveling throughout East Asia changed her way of thinking, and she returned to the U.S. committed to all things related to global education and study abroad. In her spare time, she is an obsessive yogini, super-nanny, cruciverbalist and Jeopardy! enthusiast.

If you are interested in being a guest blogger please email me at [email protected]

Must Attend – Forum Conference Denver

04/08/2012                                                                                                                                                      6 Comments

I usually don’t write about the conferences I attend because to be honest most of the time I usually don’t attend many of the sessions, except the ones I am presenting at, and am usually meeting with partners or potential partners.  Additionally, in the last few years I haven’t really found any sessions that have really inspired me or given me great ideas to put into practice.

This all changed when I recently attended the 2012 Forum on Education Abroad Conference in Denver, CO this past March.  I was fortunate enough to also attend the Standards Institute in addition to the regular conference activities.  All I can say is that this is a must attend for all those in the Education Abroad field.  In total, there were really only 1-2 sessions that really didn’t resonate with me but every other session I attended created so many ideas that I wanted to incorporate into my work that the conference actually became overwhelming.  I have page after page of notes from the sessions I attended.  The worst thing that happened was that I kept thinking about all the new concepts I wanted to incorporate but then had to stop to think about how I would be able to incorporate them all given the short staff situation I am currently in and already being overwhelmed and overworked as the new Director of an international education office.  In the long run, that is a good problem to have.  I haven’t had that happen in years, in terms of going to sessions that generate so many new concepts I want to being using or attempting.

Some of you may ask what makes this conference different than all of the others out there that we in the international education field get asked to attend.  There are several things that I think make this conference worth attending.  One is that it is focused on just education abroad rather than the entire international education field.  Additionally, the caliber of the sessions is extremely high.  As a mentioned earlier I only attended 1-2 sessions in a 3 day period that didn’t really resonate with me.  (I won’t mention what those were so as to not pick on anyone and those sessions may have resonated with others.) 

Another factor that plays heavily into this conference is while, yes, you do get a chance to meet with partners and other colleagues that is not the purpose of most people’s time there.  The conference gives you plenty of time to network with extended coffee breaks and several receptions so you don’t have to worry about missing sessions to talk with people.  Plus the exhibit hall is only open for one day which means you have to focus your attention on the sessions. 

I can’t say enough about the high caliber of the sessions; what I also want to mention is that this conference is a must for education abroad professionals to attend, it is also a great opportunity to bring faculty and others that work with education abroad to assist them in understanding everything that goes into making programs run.  It would be great to get these individuals to this conference especially those that have been involved for years in running programs but don’t necessary understand why offices have some of the policies they do.

While I haven’t talked about individual sessions since what may resonate with me may not resonate with you I would still encourage everyone to try and make this conference every year and make it a priority for your budget to attend this conference.  Also consider the Standards Institute, which would have been enough for me in terms of generating ideas, but seems to hit on some of the most relevant topics in the field today.

I will say it would be great if they covered a few more technology topics related to education abroad, especially more than the typical blogs that have been around for awhile and focus on a few more of the newer technology but that is just from some that is fully integrated into social media. 🙂

If you attended the Forum Conference in Denver I would love to have you comment with your thoughts on this event as well.

Hope to see you at the next Forum on Education Abroad Conference in Chicago in 2013.

Upcoming Presentation – Social Media for Alumni

04/05/2012                                                                                                                                                    5 Comments

Next week I will be speaking in Boston at the International Career Consortium Annual Conference.

I am really looking forward to this event and will be talking about using social media to engage alumni.

Here is my presentation description.
Creating Global Communities: Using Advanced Social Media Strategies to Engage International Education Alumni Social media is a powerful tool that can be harnessed to create global communities that connect people around the world to enhance career opportunities and networks.  This session will discuss means for career development professionals to utilize social media to engage international education alumni (both study abroad and international students) in creating these communities.  This session goes beyond the basics and assumes some intermediate to advanced knowledge of social media tools.

If you are going to be in the Boston area next week I highly encourage you to consider attending this event.  There are a lot of great sessions in addition to mine. 🙂

The deadline to register is tomorrow – April 6th.

For more information on this conference please visit

I hope to see you there.  Looking forward to an interesting day!

Social Media – the Early Years

03/25/2012                                                                                                                                    6 Comments

How the communicated way back when!

You and Social Media

Do you fit into any or all of these areas? Or has your use of these social media tools led to these issues?  Thought my social media readers might enjoy this!

Social Media Detox

Does the title strike fear into your social media addicted heart? 🙂

I know this concept sounds odd for someone who talks about social media but I also think that it is a necessity.  I think sometimes people, myself included, have come to rely on social media so much that we cannot or will not take a step back from it and 1) appreciate why and how we use it and 2) actually talk to people in person and/or face to face. 

I just read this article on how tourists can put down their iPhones or Blackberries –  I can completely see that happening.  I know for me that for me to fully be able to disconnect from my email, social media, etc. is to literally leave the country and not be able to access my phone or internet on a regular basis.  I actually have found that I am able to relax more and take a deep breath when I am not worried about missing an email, a Facebook post, or a Twitter mention.

However, I will say, that when I come back to social media I feel like a year has passed since I was on it instead of a few weeks.  Social media changes so rapidly and so much information is published every day it can be overwhelming to step by into the fray. 

Have you ever completely stepped away from social media and allowed yourself to detox from the need to constantly check your Facebook status or Twitter feeds?  If you have how long have you been able to hold out? A day?  A week? A month?  What did you feel when you did that?  How did you feel when you stepped back into the social media realm?

It can be an intimidating concept to step away from all your connections and  your instant access but I challenge you (or as one of my friends says “I dare you”) to step away from social media from at least one week and then report back on what that experience was like and what you realized about social media when you came back to it.

I think you may surprise yourself!  The challenge has been laid will you take it up?

P.S. Here is another group that has laid down a similar challenge.

Is this you?

Do you ever feel like this?

Social Media Engagement in the Real World

Sorry this has taken be so long to write but my full-time job seems to have gotten in the way a little bit lately.  But better late than never I suppose.

As I said in my previous blog,  my next blog, this blog, would be my thoughts on social media engagement and interaction.

I want to start off my saying that I am obviously a huge fan of social media and believe that all organizations and individuals should be involved in social media in some way since it is not going away and in fact is only going to continue to grow.

H0wever, with that being said, I also think it is extremely easy to become obsessed with social media and it can easily become your life.  Do you ever notice those people that even in meetings can help but check their Facebook status or Twitter feed in the  middle of the meeting or post what they ate for lunch as they are eating it?  I will admit that sometimes I am in this person (not the lunch part though ;).  However, I am come to also realize that in some cases in-person or direct contact of some sort is much more appropriate.

Many people have asked me in the last couple of years if I think social media will replace all in-person contact.  My answer to that is no.  I think it is still important to have direct contact with people.  What I also tell them is that social media can play a part in generating this direct contact because it creates the ability to meet people and network which then leads to these direct contacts.  I can’t tell you the number of people I have met because of me stepping into the social media realm that I would never have had the opportunity to meet without being on Facebook and Twitter.  I will also say that it is a little strange to talk to someone for years, virtually, via Facebook and Twitter, but have never met them.  But, once I do meet them, it is like I already know them due to our social media interactions.

So while I do think that social media is important and extremely useful I don’t think it is taking away from or making people  more impersonal.  In fact, I think it is doing the opposite in that it is generating more engagement just on a different level.  Social media is, however, creating the need for us to teach our students, and even ourselves, how to understand the difference between social media “speak” and real world, in-person “speak”.  These are two different types of “speak” that cannot always be intermingled.  Basically, this world of social media has come along and created its own vernacular and when people become so entrenched in it the forget how to use real world “speak”.  So it is up to use to continue to educate ourselves and those around us on when each of these forms of communication are used and how to use them appropriately.

Do you agree?  What are you thoughts on this?

Social Media – Impersonal? Engaged?

I thought I would write a post this time.  I have had several guest bloggers lately but haven’t really said anything myself so I thought I would weigh in on a few things.

Lately, there have been quite a few interesting posts about the use of social media.  From everything to use in higher education to no longer needing business cards.

While I am an obvious supporter of social media these articles made me stop and think.  I think social media tools are great and useful but the questions these articles and the use of social media in general have raised for me, and I know for many others, is does the use of social media make us more impersonal and anti-social in in-person settings?  Also, do you think kids/students today are more or less engaged as a result of social media use?

I know these are not easy questions to answer but I thought I would put them out there and see what you think about them.

I will post what I think in another blog in the next week or so but I don’t want my opinions to sway yours.  I want to see what others really feel about this topic.  What have your interactions with students and colleagues made you think in regards to these questions?

I look forward to reading your comments!

Mandy’s Mashups

This blog is written by Mandy’s Mashups, a new start-up to meet your international education social media needs.  Through various posts, I hope to provide information to you about how to use and optimize your use of social media.


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