5 things future social media professionals should know

Every year, I have the wonderful privilege of speaking to a group future marketers at my alma mater, the University of North Texas.

Let’s take it back to when I was in college for a second. I was the cheezy kid in the second row (the first row seemed a little too presumptuous) asking all the questions. I was a nerd when it came to classes I was interested in. And the thought of getting to connect with well-networked people who were already in my field, was an idea that I loved.

When I started my career, social media was barely a thing. We had Myspace (I’m not that old), but the rest were yet to come. There definitely weren’t classes in social media.

My career started in public relations, at an agency.

I think agencies can be beneficial if you want to try a lot of things, for a lot of clients. My experience was valuable, but the grind wore me down and I wanted to move to the brand side of things and move to social media… which was a fantastic idea.

On the brand side, you get to dig deep and hone your skills. I was able to step in and build a social media program from scratch – growing it from a community of 38,000 to an audience of 60.4 million. It’s been quite a journey; and I couldn’t have done it without an amazing group of people along the way.

I’ve always been thankful for my mentors, family, former teachers and communications/social media friends who have supported me. I feel like I owe it to them to pass along the knowledge, advice and good vibes I’ve gotten along the way.

Now, it’s my turn on the other side of the desk.

It’s crazy to think that this year, millennials are expected to overtake the majority of the workforce according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. By 2030, the generation who won’t remember the time before dial-up is expected to make up 75 percent of the workforce.

The world has been changing the last decade, and social media has been leading the charge.

The newest graduates are joining the workforce as digital natives. And here’s some of the advice I gave to them:

  1. If you aren’t passionate about it, don’t settle for it. When I think about my career, there are three things I’ve needed to be successful (and it took me a while to figure this out, which is why I’m telling you now): the culture, the team/boss, the job. If you can find the trifecta, you’re set. Remember during interviews you are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. Find out as much as you can about all three to see if it’s a fit for your personality and work-style.
  2. Learn quickly and fail fast. Sorry to use corporate jargon, but it’s true. You’ll make mistakes. Take ownership. Move on. And don’t make them again. You’ll need to make an impact quickly to be successful. So find out what keeps your boss up at night and solve that problem.
  3. Have a plan. If you look at the most successful people in business, they have a plan of where they want their career to go. Each job you have in your journey should get you closer to that ultimate goal. Keep in mind that sometimes one step back will help you take two forward.
  4. Think about your personal mission. Do you have a personal mission statement? It’ll help you think about where you want to go. I want to squeeze every ounce I can out of life – both personally and professionally. This is what drives me: “Live life to its fullest – with integrity and passion in everything I do.”
  5. The best and brightest around you aren’t your enemies, they are your mentors. Find them and stick by them. They’ll show you the ropes. If you model your work-style after them, you’ll also be successful.

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