Every spring, I put together a letter addressed to social media and marketing graduates as they prepare to walk the stage and join the real world. This year’s letter is no different. Read on for a what graduates should be hearing when they receive their diploma.
Dear Social Media Graduate,
Word on the street is that you are graduating soon. With your tassels, gown, and diploma in hand, I am very sure you are ready to take on the world at large.
First though – I’ll let you take that selfie.
Your classes, late nights, extracurricular activities, and so much more have led you to this very spot: graduation. For many of you, this is the end of roughly 20 years of schooling. There were times where you no doubt wondered whether you made it this far, and here you are with a paper that states you mean something to somebody and should be hired right on the spot – or so you think so.
Hint: You couldn’t be more wrong.
Even though we are out of the shadows of the great recession, hiring simply isn’t what it used to be. A lot of the folks who were priced out during the great recession are in the very jobs you covet, trying to earn back all the savings they lost six short years ago. While a college degree is required these days for a job, the currency of job hunting is beyond that in experience and having actually demonstrated competency in the workplace. If you think you’ve worked hard these last four years (plus) for college, brace yourself: You’re about to work even harder – even if you know how to post to Facebook, explain what the EdgeRank Algorithm is, as well as create a hashtagged campaign.
However that said, fear not. Like every generation before you there are ways to get ahead. Here are some of a few that have helped me get further in my career as I move forward that you can consider for yourself:
- Learn how to Code: You may wonder why a social media person is advocating for social media graduates to code. The answer is simple: Because this is actually what is in demand these days. If you can code and you can do social media, it makes you a triple threat. Much of what involves social media these days also involves a great deal of creating the experiences that come along with it. Learn these skills and you will be golden.
- Figure Out Your Brand: Gone are the days where you create your resume and share it with everyone around you. In addition to doing your research on other brands you must create your own as well, and tailor that to the career that you seek. Don’t go into the workplace without a message.
- Network, network, network: LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are not replacements for the networking you ought to do offline. Make business cards, get out into the field, and connect with the people you need to meet in order to get your name out there. Networking was something I didn’t nearly do enough of when I was just graduating. Don’t make my mistake.
- Start a Blog: One thing that I have learned a great deal of in interviewing is that having a personal blog/website really helps. It allows recruiters to ask deeper questions beyond what your strengths, weaknesses, and preferred way of being managed are. Create a consistent content calendar and share your content on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.
- Pay it Forward: Finally, pay it forward and help others. While you may be in direct competition with others for similar jobs, it’s important to show up and assist others. You are after all in this experience together, so be kind because everyone will be fighting a tough battle. Helping others goes a long way in making a better environment for everyone.
Once again, congratulations. Take time to celebrate and be present towards your upcoming journey as you seek the job that you desire. None of this is supposed to be easy, especially in this industry, and that’s exactly why we do it.
And it’s why I believe you do it too.