Alumni Spotlight: Cahner Olson

She now works as a social media manager and freelance photographer. She’s informed us that she’s visited 6/7 continents and over 40 countries! You can check out her website or follow her instagram handle @cahnerolson to find out more.

What do you do as a freelance photographer and social media manager?
I have six clients in San Francisco that I work with on a reoccurring basis. Three of them are food businesses, and two are tourist companies on Pier 39, and one is a cancer non-profit. I handle every aspect of their social media from beginning to end. That means planning a social strategy, doing photo shoots, scheduling social posts, and looking at analytics. I also do a bit of graphic design and website work for them.

What is your favorite part about your job?
I love that I get to be my own boss! I can schedule photo shoots, meetings, and work time whenever I want. And if I want to take a day off, I can! As long as I stay up to date on the posts that are going out, I can also travel as much as I want. When I’m home I schedule all of my photoshoots. Then while traveling, I do a majority of my scheduling and planning. I also love that I get to work with a variety of businesses. I’ve learned to much about being an entrepreneur because I work with so many of them. It comes in handy when I have questions about my own business.

How did studying abroad contribute to your social media and photography career?
My time in Paris was when I really started taking photography seriously. It was the first trip I went on where I had a nice DSLR camera, so I got some great images to add to my portfolio. I also made a video of my time in Europe, which was the first video I published on my own social channels! You can find that here. It was on Vimeo but I switched it to Youtube once I started my own channel.

I also fell in love with traveling after my semester with ISA. Being able to travel is a huge reason I wanted to start my own business and work for myself. I have so many places I want to see and I want to make that a priority while I’m young, and not spend my time hoping I get more vacation days at a corporate job.

What did you learn while studying abroad that you now implement into your day to day interactions?
I think studying abroad was my first glimpse into the fact that the American way of living isn’t necessarily the right way, it’s just what feels right because of how I was raised. Even today I find myself thinking more outside-the-box on ideas and on life things. Since moving to San Francisco, almost all of the friends I’ve made have been from another country. We have a different culture, like different foods, speak differently.. and all of that is ok! It’s a real contrast from my midwestern upbringing in Nebraska. I’ll always remember Paris as the place that those horizons started to broaden.
What was a favorite memory of studying abroad?
There’s honestly so many memories that it’s hard to pick just one. One of the best parts were the other students I met who were from all over the US. We actually just had a reunion in LA last month and it was the first time we’ve all been together since we were in Paris 4 years ago!! We had a great weekend hanging out on the beach and reminiscing about France + the many other countries we got to visit together.
What food do you miss most from you study abroad city?
All the pastries! There was a boulangerie on literally every corner and I went in to those way more times than I care to admit.
Any advice to current or potential students?
Don’t overthink your decision to go abroad. This is the only time in your life you’ll get to do something like this, so just do it! And once you’re abroad, make the experience completely your own. I made tons of lifelong friends in Paris, but a few of my favorite days were spent by myself at a museum or just walking around. I think you learn the most about yourself when you spend time alone in a different country.

Interview conducted by Jessica Terrell, an ISA Alumni Relations Coordinator.

Cahner Olson was an ISA Global Ambassador at University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She studied with ISA in Paris, Spring 2015.

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