How can you market your study abroad experience?

API Guest Blogger: Joshua Irons of






Social Media Can Make You More Marketable (if you are careful)

Jessica Pena, a 20-year-old Japanese Studies major from SUNY Postdam in New York studying at Kansai Gaidai in Osaka, Japan, is wise beyond her years. While inadvertent on her part, Jessica has effectively created her own personal brand using the Internet as a platform for her future. To record her experiences while studying abroad, Jessica chose to vlog (video blog) “as a way to share my experiences with others who have the same goals and aspirations.”


Jessica Pena’s vlog

She easily demonstrates her expertise in reading and speaking Japanese while also explaining the history and traditions surrounding Japanese culture. Jessica also shares personal reflections on the difficulty adjusting to a new culture followed by her self-described “complete turnaround” that has left her with the feeling she belongs in Japan.

Through vlogging, Jessica exudes cultural awareness, sensitivity and tolerance, and an international perspective―attributes that just happen to be highly valued by hiring managers, according to a survey conducted by Global HR News.  Students who study abroad should be mindful that not only friends and family may be accessing their online travel journals. Hiring managers and even graduate school admissions officers are adopting a more holistic approach to their selection process, referencing more than an individual’s resume. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, blogs and other social media tools offer a well-rounded view of an individual and show what a resume does not—communications and analytical skills, leadership qualities, problem-solving abilities, adaptability, and technical savvy.

Overwhelmingly, students are not aware of the “prying” eyes of hiring managers and admissions officers. According to a global survey of 100 students who are either studying abroad or are about to travel overseas to study, only ten percent are using social media to make themselves more marketable to hiring managers and admissions officers.

The question then becomes: How can study abroad students use technology to share their experiences with friends and family while increasing their chances for admission into their graduate school of choice or landing a job in their desired career field? The answer is simple―be authentic. Portray a positive image that aligns with your interests and passions, and know how to best leverage available social media tools.

Every study abroad student is a brand worthy of remark, but Jessica is quick to remind students to remain focused on what is important to them. “Even though you are blogging about your studying abroad adventures as a way to advance your career and educational goals, remember that you are also abroad to grow as a person.” Again…be authentic.

Check out Jessica’s Travel Vlog by clicking here.

Click here for additional tools and tips about travel writing, blogging, vlogging, or photography.

Joshua Irons is the International Product Development Manager at EducationDynamics and manages

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  1. Great post! Love that you incorporated research into the post as well. I think Jessica is doing a great and unique thing with her vlogging. Thanks for posting about this.

    • Thanks David! We hope to see many API students follow suit 🙂

      Thanks also to Josh for the guest post!

  2. This is a valuable lesson, and many students would do well to follow Jessica’s example. I find that, more often than not, colleges and universities are not really training students to use their study abroad experience as a powerful springboard to reach their academic and/or career goals. Providing specific guidance on how to communicate about their time overseas makes a big difference in students’ ability to “sell” themselves effectively (without being overly sales-y). It can also make their experience richer. This is something we talk about a lot at Vagabond University, and I’m interested to learn more about what sorts of training in communication skills, social media, and self-promotion (for lack of a better phrase) others are providing in this arena. Thoughts? Examples?

  3. Hi Adrian, thanks for the note! We agree that this is an area students need to focus on, and as such we’ve partnered with MatadorU to offer our students guided, extracurricular travel writing and travel photography instruction. More information may be found at at We’re looking forward to learning more about your site as well!

  4. Via @nlsc on Twitter: RT @langology: How can you market your study abroad experience? via @janetjoy, @LangForCareers: #language

  5. Jeramy Johnson says

    Thanks David et all for sharing!

  6. Marty Tillman says

    For another perspective on the linkage between education
    abroad and career development, see this article in Chronicle of
    Higher Education and the Live Chat which followed its publication:
    I’ve written extensively about this topic and created an exit
    workshop which enables students – while in-country- to begin
    focusing on interpreting their intercultural competencies in
    relation to their career interests.

  7. I created my own study abroad blog and twitter profile which helped me get a job in digital media. I purchased my own domain and used wordpress which I recommend for those looking to continue the blog after their semester and those looking to eventually turn it into some sort of business. For the other 99% of students, I recommend Students Gone Global which is launching in January. It’s like Blogger or Tumblr but just for study abroad students and will give you the networking features that other blogging platforms cannot. It’s going to be a great way to get travel tips/connect with other students in your program/get inspiration while sharing your experiences with friends and family. Check out

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