Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Breaking the Mold: A Career in International Education

No travel or study abroad experience? You aren't alone. There are plenty of individuals and post-grads out there who dreamt of making it a reality, but were often limited by circumstances. 

It doesn't mean you still CAN'T have meaningful travel experiences, though. Just the opposite actually. To help fuel your own dreams of traveling abroad, and having the courage to make it happen, I'm featuring an interview with one my colleagues at GoAbroad.com and the Founder of SocialMediaforStudents.com, Kayla Patterson.

Kayla sat down to chat about why she didn't study abroad, how it's actually helped her in her role within international education, and where social media comes into play! 

Why didn't you study abroad? How has it affected your current outlook on travel?

Ultimately I ended up not studying abroad due to my somewhat nontraditional college experience. Knowing that I wanted to get through college with minimal debt, I got my Associate's Degree at a community college and transferred it into my four year degree at Colorado State University. And honestly, I didn't even know that I could study abroad while I was attending community college. By the time I was a junior at CSU, studying abroad would have postponed my graduation - mostly because I wasn't taking classes in preparation for it.

All said an done, I regret it. I wish I would have known that I could study abroad during community college and/or been prepared to do it my junior year. Regret has affected my current outlook on travel, well and maybe my recent international experience traveling to the Philippines! 

Those two things combined have fueled my passion for helping others discover the resources they have to go abroad, as well as hold on to hope that I too can have more international experiences in my future.

What do you do for GoAbroad and how did you get involved with it?


I initially started working with GoAbroad as a Social Media Intern while I was attending CSU. As a marketing major, I had made the decision to delve into social media, an intriguing and fairly new aspect of the marketing world at that time. I applied for the position while I was running a small residential cleaning company to pay the bills. A couple interviews later I was learning more than I could've imagined about social media and how it's used to market companies and organizations. I began helping manage GoAbroad's social media presence, and also helped conceive GoSocial, our social media management and consulting service. 

As we gained clients I transitioned into a GoSocial Community Manager, handling 7 client accounts on my own before hiring an intern of my own! After graduation I was fortunate enough to be offered a full-time position as GoMedia Coordinator, the role I am currently in today. In short, I oversee all of the online marketing services offered under the GoMedia division, but focus heavily on GoSocial, overseeing my team of community managers, and soliciting new clients.

How does social media play a role within the travel industry?

At this point in time, social media plays a role in just about every industry; however, there are some aspects of the travel industry that, in my opinion, make it more successful than others in the social media realm. First, traveling the world, for many, is an aspiration; it's something that people hope to do; hope to work towards in their lives. I think that it's due to this quality that it is easier to create content that relates to travel that people want to share and interact with online. For example, inspirational travel quotes. Who knew these would yield more engagement than just about anything we've ever tried with our clients.

Related to this quality, travel is easy to depict - all you need is pretty pictures of destinations all over the world, and people will like them all day long - pun intended! Finally, for the international education field in particular, social media is where the target market is (although I could probably make this argument for any industry with over 1 billion people on Facebook!). The target market for study abroad is college students, and college students are the most active demographic on social media. It doesn't make sense for the travel industry not to succeed on social media.  

What advice would you give to students who want to study abroad, but think they can't?

I think you can. Really, there aren't many circumstances out there that would truly hinder you from going abroad. Most students are held back for financial reasons, or at least that's what they say. Well, did you know there are hundreds of study abroad scholarships out there? In my opinion, students (myself included) think they can't study abroad for one reason or another, but what it really comes down to is how determined you are to make it happen. Also, you really just owe it to yourself. From what I have learned and experienced thus far, international experience and a deeper cultural understanding of another nation besides your own will only help you become a more well-rounded person.

Kayla is the founder of SocialMediaForStudents.com, a site that aims to be a resource for social media students of all types to learn how to market themselves or their business through social media. She is also the GoMedia Coordinator for GoAbroad.com where she oversees a social media management and consulting service. Kayla has a passion for country music, travel, and social media, and enjoys a good chick-flick, any kind of shopping, and all kinds of dessert! Follow her on Twitter.