IEM Spotlight Newsletter, Vol. 10, Issue 2 - August 2013

Jessica B. Sandberg

Director of International Admissions, Temple University

Where I live:

Philadelphia, PA

Where I was born:

Philadelphia, PA


My husband, one dog, and two cats.

  • BA in political science, Moravian College
  • MA in international relations, University of Kent-Brussels
First Job:

Coffee shop waitress at Yum Yum Donuts

  • Admissions counselor, Arcadia University, 1999-2001
  • Admissions officer/international student officer, Montgomery County Community College, 2001-2002
  • Head of recruitment, Vesalius College (Brussels, Belgium), 2003-2006
  • Coordinator of International Student Services, Community College of Philadelphia, 2007-2012
  • Director of International Admissions, Temple University, 2012-present
How I got where I am today:

I'm pretty much an international education "lifer." I started my career earning my stripes as a "domestic road warrior" at a small private college in 1999; I was traveling and recruiting in rural Pennsylvania. A few years later, I moved over to the community college world for a chance to do international admissions and serve as a designated school official (DSO). In 2002, I moved to Europe to do my Master's program and, once I completed my degree, was fortunate enough to be offered a position at Vesalius College in Belgium. At Vesalius, I traveled around the world to recruit international students. I returned to my hometown of Philadelphia in 2007 and accepted a position at the Community College of Philadelphia, where I coordinated both admissions and international services for international students. After five great years there, I joined Temple University when they made the decision to expand their international admissions operation and create a new position.

Favorite NAFSA moment:

My favorite moment was probably the first time I walked into the Exhibitor's Hall at my first annual conference in 2000. Seeing all the booths organized by country and region, I felt like I was in [Disney World's] Epcot Center for adults! It was also the first time I met so many other people who work in the same field and share the same passion; I found that to be incredibly exciting and inspiring.

Best career advice:

Work harder than you have to and develop a reputation as a person who cares about their institution and always follows through. Build a strong network and volunteer in your professional associations, including NAFSA! Find at least one mentor who is two steps ahead of you in their career. Ask your mentors for advice about graduate school, resume building, interview skills, etc. As you get further in your career, pay it forward and develop protégés whose talent will blossom with a little encouragement. Our field is a small one, so the effort you put into it will return to you in some form.

Quotations I like:

"May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds." –Edward Abbey

"It's the one activity that gives me some hope that the human race won't commit suicide, though I still wouldn't count on it." –Senator J. William Fulbright on his creation of the Fulbright Exchange Program

These are a few of my favorite things:

My husband, coffee, wine, bike rides, French cheese, and my passport.

These are not:

Broccoli, running late to an appointment, mice, and loud noises.

Why I work in international higher education:

I am proud to be one of the few people I know who is passionate about her job. Not only do I enjoy my career, but I feel that my work supports my personal values and ethics. On a personal note, I never tire of learning new languages, customs, landscapes, and foods. Politically, I believe in "people-to-people diplomacy" and think that the movement of students throughout the world probably does a better job of bridging global understanding than a handful of politicians and treaties.