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.

References

Chappell, S., & Griffith, K. (2012). Why you should used LinkedIn more than Facebook or Twitter . In Prof Krg. Retrieved November 11, 2013, from http://www.profkrg.com/why-you-should-use-linkedin-more-than-facebook-or-twitter

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Reisinger, D. (2013). LinkedIn now stands at 200 million members. In CNET . Retrieved November 11, 2013, from http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-57562972-93/linkedin-now-stands-at-200-million-members/

Silverman, R. E. (2012). No more resumes says some firms. In The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved November 11, 2013, from http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052970203750404577173031991814896

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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. 

 

References

Number of Active Facebook Users over the years. (2013). In Yahoo News . Retrieved October 29,   2013, from http://finance.yahoo.com/news/number-active-users-facebook-over-years-214600186–finance.html                   

The Growth of Social Media. (2011). In Huffington Post: Technology. Retrieved October 29,        2013, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/01/growth-social-media    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   http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/10/15/florida-bullying-arrest-lakeland- 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 http://thenextweb.com/twitter/2013/10/03/twitter-says-it-sees-215-million-monthly-active-users-100-million-daily-users-and-500-million-tweets-per-day/