Social media. If you’re a college student (or just about anybody in today’s society, actually), you’ve heard the term. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, even my blog here on GradSchools.com – they all fall into the category of social media.
Social media are web based networks where users are able to share comments and content with other people in their community. This can be a digital community spread out across the globe, or a smaller physical community keeping up to date on things like local news and events.
So what? Why am I explaining this? Well, as a graduate student, I have found that social media plays a surprisingly important role in the growth of my education and my future career. We are students of the technology age, and if we want to succeed, we need to embrace it!
As a broadcasting major, perhaps media in general is more important for me to understand than someone studying, say, English literature or biochemistry. Just today, my professor was telling us that 50% of the Weather Channel’s revenue comes from the digital end of their business. And posting weather updates on Twitter before anybody else can get us followers and a “name” to help make us more recognizable come job applications. Television stations want to know we can handle the digital aspect of work, because if the station doesn’t keep up with competitors, they (and we) will be left in the dust!
This concept extends far beyond just broadcasting, though. Making your name known in any field is important. For instance, a literature student could post about new short stories or novels they’ve come across. If you recommend a novel a month before it hits the best seller list, people will come back to you for recommendations again in the future! And a biochemist could post about their most recent research. Can you imagine how much it would help in a job interview if the employer follows you, too?! A “professional” account on Facebook or Twitter can be a GREAT way to network within your industry. As long as you keep your account professional and up to date, it can open up a whole world of opportunities.
If you’re a current grad student, I highly recommend starting some sort of social media account relating to your field of study. It’s okay if you’re not an expert yet. You can share other people’s articles or ideas that you find interesting. Just get your foot in the door. Post at least once a week. Follow other people so they know you exist and can follow you in return. And remember to keep it professional. You never know who’s reading. Good luck!