Life after college: How I will use social media to get ahead


It is crazy to think that in just four weeks, I will graduate with a degree in Health Communications and enter into the “real world”. Just a few years ago, I was a Freshman who had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, and now I am getting ready to start my professional career. I am both  terrified and ecstatic to see what how my career will unfold. As I think about what my life will be like after college, I can’t help but think of how social media could expand my career even further.

Health communications is such a broad field. However, many jobs within Health Communications involve public relations or advertising. My ideal job would involve working for  in the Communications departments in a nonprofit health care organization. I would love to work with the community to raise awareness and funds for cancer research. Social media could serve as an educational tool to educate the community about cancer, what they could do to help, and events that the organization will be hosting.

One hard thing that I have already learned is that the job market is tough—especially in Health Communications. While there is a lot you could do with a Health Communications degree–being a patient advocate, pharmaceutical sales, or even public relations for a health care organization–these jobs are very competitive, and many employers like you to have some experience before they will even consider you for the job. Even with the best credentials, there are several others who are just as qualified or perhaps even more qualified than you might be.

Thus, it is crucial to make yourself stand out from the rest, and the way to do this is to establish your online presence. You must “sell” yourself to an employer through your social networks, and one  of the best websites for this LinkedIn. With over 200 million users, LinkedIn is quickly becoming one of the most popular social media websites (Reisinger, 2013). LinkedIn allows professionals, strangers,  and colleagues alike to connect to another based on common professional interests. Every time that a contact updates a skill or something on their profile, those who are connected to them are made aware of the change through e-mail (Chappell and Griffith, 2012). LinkedIn also provides unique networking opportunities, advice, and mentoring. According to Chappell and Griffith, “My LinkedIn contacts are frequently posting information about tools I can use to improve my knowledge in my field, nearby conferences I can attend to improve my knowledge, and access to webinars, databases and other forums of note” (Chappell and Griffith,2012). Thus, not only does LinkedIn allow you to sell yourself by highlighting your most valuable and unique skills, it gives professionals educational and networking opportunities.

It is also crucial to show potential employers what work you have done, so that they can envision what you could bring to the company. One woman was recently hired because her employers were impressed with her LinkedIn profile, Twitter, and personal blog. Many employers feel that Creating a professional blog that showcases your writing skills, as well as highlighting work you have done will show give potential employers an idea of what your best work and strengths. Using other social media tools, such as Facebook or Twitter, to showcase a personal blog is a great idea because you will gain more exposure. Let employers know that you are out there and they will find you!

As a future Health Communications professional, I know for a fact that I will be using social media—no matter what I do. Whether I choose LinkedIn to market my unique set of skills, or show chase my work in a blog, I know that I will be able to get ahead in my professional career.


Chappell, S., & Griffith, K. (2012). Why you should used LinkedIn more than Facebook or Twitter . In Prof Krg. Retrieved November 11, 2013, from

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Reisinger, D. (2013). LinkedIn now stands at 200 million members. In CNET . Retrieved November 11, 2013, from

Silverman, R. E. (2012). No more resumes says some firms. In The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved November 11, 2013, from

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My Opinions on Social Media


            Social media has exploded in popularity over the past few years.  A study conducted in 2011 showed that two thirds of American adults who go on the Internet use social media (The Huffington Post, 2011). The number of people who use social media has increased over the years. In 2004, just a little over a million people used Facebook (Yahoo, 2013). Fast forward nine years later, and now there are over a billion active Facebook users (Yahoo, 2013). In 2006, Twitter had just over 1,000 users and today there are over 218 million active users per month (Prontalinski, 2013)

Ever since I was a teenager, I have used some sort of social media. When I was in middle school, I used a Xanga site. I would spend hours on that site, writing posts about my life, seeing what everyone else had on their own sites, changing my background, putting songs that would repeat on the site whenever someone clicked on my page. A few years later, I upgraded to Myspace and added people into my “Top Ten” friends list, post entries about my life, added countdown tools to counting down to “important” dates like the end of the school year, my sixteenth birthday or a school dance. Eventually, I also got a Facebook when it became open to high school students. I was so confused by that site, and treated it like a Myspace. I remember when the word “is” was stuck in the status, and it limited what you could say. I remember that I would have poke wars with my friends, seeing who could poke each other the fastest. Facebook eventually killed my love of Myspace, and now I spend most of my time using Facebook. I also have a Twitter and LinkedIn, but find most of my time using Facebook.

            There are many pros and cons to using social media . Social media is a great way to network yourself. You can connect with potential employers or job mentors almost instantly. Many employers are choosing to ditch the paper and become more “green” by accepting only online applications or LinkedIn profiles. For example, I have been applying for many jobs in my career path lately. Many of the websites give an option to apply right from your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn also gives you the opportunity to “sell yourself” to a potential employer, highlighting your best qualities, and many times, giving you more room to do so than a traditional resume. Social media is also a great way to connect with old friends you’ve lost touch with or family members or friends who far away. My best friend lives in Arizona and is getting married next year. I am going to be her maid of honor, and am helping her plan the wedding. Sites like Facebook and Pinterest have made it possible to for us to instantly share our ideas. Without social media, it would be a lot harder and more time consuming to plan a wedding long distance.

            However, there are some drawbacks to social media. First, social media takes out the “personal” part of communication. Since everything is online, you do not get the same experience as you would having a face-to-face conversation. You also may misinterpret things during while communicating with someone on social media. You cannot interpret someone’s body language, or tone of voice while using social media, and sometimes those are the most important things involved in communication. Many people “over-share” things on social media. Nearly half of employers look up potential employees on Facebook before hiring them (Huffington Post, 2013). Thus, users must be careful what they post on social media—because many important people could be watching.

Social media provides another platform for bullying. Since social media is so open, and nearly anyone can create a Facebook or Twitter profile, those who choose to cyber bully can hide under a fake name, and continuously bully with sometimes very little consequences. This can be extremely toxic, especially to young teenagers. I remember when I was a teenager that image was everything, and I cared tremendously about the opinions of my peers. Being a teenager is an emotional, awkward, and very difficult time enough without bullying. Last month, a twelve year old committed suicide because she was constantly attacked on Facebook by her classmates for over a year. Even after her death, they posted horrible things on her Facebook wall suggesting they were glad she was dead and that they did not care about their involvement in the bullying that lead to her suicide.

            Social media has grown so much over the past ten years. Now more than ever, people are using it to connect to one another, find jobs, share news, and so much more. Social media allows users to network themselves, and highlight their best qualities to get their dream job. It also allows provides instant feedback. However, social media takes out many personal aspects of communication, and replaces it with technological aspects. Many people also post inappropriate information on their social media pages. Finally, social media also provide a platform for bullying, causing harm to users, especially teenagers. 



Number of Active Facebook Users over the years. (2013). In Yahoo News . Retrieved October 29,   2013, from–finance.html                   

The Growth of Social Media. (2011). In Huffington Post: Technology. Retrieved October 29,        2013, from    infographic_n_945256.html

Staglin, D., & Welch, W. (2013). Two Young girls arrested on bullying charges after suicide.    USA TODAY. Retrieved October 29, 2013, from suicide/2986079/

Prontalinski, E. (2013, October). Twitter sees 218m monthly active users, 163.5m monthly mobile users, 100m daily users, and 500m tweets per day. In TNW News . Retrieved October 29, 2013, from



Improving technology at ArtPrize

It is hard to believe that there is only one week left of ArtPrize! Time sure flies when you are having fun. Have you checked it out yet? Yesterday, the top ten winners were announced. All the winners and locations of the their entries can be found here.

Last week, I talked about how technology launched ArtPrize. If you didn’t get a chance to read it, you can check it out here. This week, I am going to continue on with the technology theme, expect now I am going to talk about how technology could be improved at ArtPrize.

I had the opportunity to visit ArtPrize twice within the past two weeks. The first day I went was opening day, September 18. It was pretty crowded, and one of the first things that I had noticed was how slow my phone was running. I have Sprint, which mainly runs on 3G, and there were several times when my phone was running so slow that I could not upload anything on FourSquare or Facebook. I figured that the networks might have been over worked  due to a large amount of people using them. However, last night I went to ArtPrize, and again I had trouble connecting to FourSquare and Facebook. This time, FourSquare timed out several times, and I got an error message saying “could not connect to network”. This kept happening several times throughout the night, and it was pretty frustrating. 

At first, I thought that it might have just Sprint that was having problems. However, during the first weekend of ArtPrize, many Verizon users reported network problems.  According to Brezening, “Verizon tells WZZM 13 that data traffic from downtown Grand Rapids on Saturday overwhelmed their systems.  They are making additions this week, so that problem should be resolved” (Brezening, 2013).

In order to fix this problem, I believe that it would be beneficial for ArtPrize to add more WiFi hotspots.  WiFi hotspots would allow people to connect to the internet for free, and would give them more opportunities to share their experiences at ArtPrize verses just relying on their cellular network alone. This year, ArtPrize teamed up with Iserv again to provide WiFi hotspots.  Last year, over 100.000 people used these free WiFi services (Wood. 2013). According to Johnson-Wood, ” In 2013, free Wi-Fi zones include Rosa Parks Circle, inside the Grand Rapids Art Museum, inside the ArtPrize Hub on Sheldon Avenue, inside the ArtPrize Clubhouse at J. Gardella’s, in the park between the Blue Bridge and the Grand Rapids Public Museum, and on the Blue Bridge” (Wood, 2013).However, it is important to note that there is not a WiFi hotspot in one of the largest sections of ArtPrize: the Bob. The B.OB. has over fifty art entries  this year, yet there is no WiFi hotspot in the area. It is clearly a high traffic area, because  several of the top twenty five picks are at the B.OB., and also one of the top ten picks, Tired Pandas is located within the vicinity. While I was at Artprize again last night, I barely had two bars of service, and there were no WiFi hotspots that I could connect to without a code. My phone was also took several minutes to receive and send text messages, so I just found it easier to go home and vote with my own WiFi.  Thus, it would be very beneficial to have a WiFi hotspot to the B.O.B for next year’s ArtPrize.

I also believe that ArtPrize should encourage artists to set up a Facebook or Twitter. Last year, the hast tag ArtPrize was mentioned 28.000 times on Twitter (Kaczmarycyzk, 2013). The ArtPrize Facebook page has over 70.000 likes and 18.000 Twitter followers (Kaczmarycyzk, 2013).  Social media is a great way to connect with the voters and the community. It would also allow constant communication between both parties, and could lead to other opportunities such as selling other art pieces, or even getting profiled in a media program.  Several of the pieces that I saw did not have any contact information available for the artist.

Go ahead and check out the last week of ArtPrize! It goes on until October 6!

References :

Brezening, B. (2013, September 23). Verizon resolves to fix ArtPrize voting issues. In WZZM13 . Retrieved September 30, 2013, from

Johnson-Wood, D. (2013, September 26). Iserv covers ArtPrize hotspots with free Wi-Fi, seeks sales and tech folks to fill jobs. In Rapid Growth. Retrieved September 30, 2013, from

Kaczmarcyzk, J. (2013, September 24). ArtPrize 2012’s Top 25 favorites in the popular vote are in only a handful of venues. In MLive. Retrieved September 30, 2013, from

Kaczmarcyzk, J. (2013). ArtPrize 2013: Exploring event’s effects on Grand Rapids in numbers. In MLive. Retrieved September 30, 2013, from

The B.OB. . (n.d.). In ArtPrize . Retrieved September 30, 2013, from

How technology launched ArtPrize


Ever since it first launched in 2009, ArtPrize has relied on technology to connect voters and artists from around the world in various ways. What exactly is ArtPrize? According to, “ArtPrize® is a radically open, independently organized international art competition with an unprecedented $200,000 top prize decided entirely by public vote” (, 2013).  Taking place in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids, MI  from September 18-October 6, 2013, ArtPrize is a free event that anyone can attend (“About”, 2013). Anyone over the age of 18 from around the world can enter this unique art competition and has the chance to win the opportunity of a lifetime. Over the course of two and a half weeks, the public votes for the entries that they like best, and will finally narrow it down to one winner at the end (“About” , 2013).

This year, about half of a million people are expected to visit ArtPrize (Pobric, 2013). Every year, the amount of people that attend ArtPrize keeps growing. In 2009, only 200,000 people visited the first ArtPrize. Just three years later in 2012,  that number had doubled to about 400,000 (Pobric, 2013). Many influential people in the Grand Rapids community donate to ArtPrize and you can find more information about that here.

Technology plays an important role in ArtPrize by encouraging the public to participate. The director of ArtPrize, Christian Gaines, explained the importance of technology in ArtPrize in  a recent interview conducted by Mark Stryker of the Detroit Free Press. According to Stryker:

“But ArtPrize has used technology not just to attract artists and venues but to register the public and then to get them to vote. That’s a unique concept…Normally when talk about social networking  you throw as wide a net as possible, trying to get as many followers or likes as possible. But this is really about the audience taking part in the event and really participating” (Stryker, 2013).

ArtPrize gives voters many options to place their votes. Some people may choose to register and vote online. There are also the options to vote via text message, or if you a a smart phone user, you can download the ArtPrize application (“Voting Rules”, 2013). As of September 25, 2013, there have been over 247,000 votes cast (No Title,, 2013). You can keep track of how many votes are cast daily on the ArtPrize homepage  here .

One of the most popular ways to vote is the app. Launched by Atomic Object in 2009, the app was first made available to iPhone users (“ArtPrize voting app”, N.D). The original app was very basic and gave users the option to vote, know how many artists and venues there were, and maps of the locations (“ArtPrize Voting App”, N.D). The next year, the app got even more updates including better maps, easier voting system using shorter digits, options to share activity through social media, and much more (“ArtPrize Voting App”, N.D).  Finally, the app was made available to Android users in 2011 (“ArtPrize Voting App”, N.D.)

I was able to experience ArtPrize for the first time last week. It was amazing and overwhelming at the same time. I never knew how creative people could get with art. And of course, I was used as much technology as I possibly could so that I could capture special moments of this trip to ArtPrize. I used FourSquare to check into places, and I took probably 50 or more pictures with my phone. And as I looked around me, a lot of people were doing the exact same thing.

Make sure to check out ArtPrize! It runs until October 6th. Check back next week for another ArtPrize related post.


About. (2013). In ArtPrize. Retrieved September 25, 2013, from

No title. (2013) In ArtPrize. Retrieved September 25, 2013 from

Pobric, P. (2013, September 18). Half a million expected to visit Grand Rapids Art Prize. The Art Newspaper. Retrieved September 25, 2013, from

Stryker, M. (2013, September 18). 5 questions with Christian Gaines, director of ArtPrize in Grand Rapids. Detroit Free Press. Retrieved September 25, 2013, from

Calvin College Hekman Library openURL resolverVoting Rules. (2013) In ArtPrize. Retrieved September 25, 2013, from

Picture: From personal collection, taken on September 18, 2013 in downtown Grand Rapids