Social media is an industry that many young people want to work in – with good reason!
Getting paid to tweet, surf Facebook and network with others on LinkedIn is a pretty appealing opportunity to a whole generation of new graduates and students alike.
But where do you start gaining social media experience before you land a job?
Many business schools and programs have started to integrate social media into their curriculum, but in this constantly-evolving industry, nothing can beat real-world experience.
Getting experience will help set you apart from other recent graduates, and also give you a better idea of what it’s like to use social media for businesses, brands, events, and organizations.
Take advantage of not having a 9-5 schedule while in school and get involved with social media at the extra-curricular level.
On-campus organizations are always looking to build a social media presence – or start one, if they’re new to the community.
Many organizations have a student role with a specific focus on communications and publicity and are usually welcome to add new people to the team.
If you’ve already got a full roster of extra-curricular commitments, mention to your manager that this is an area you’d like to explore in addition to your other responsibilities.
This kind of work is a great way to develop basic social media skills, and can position you for roles in communications and community management in student government (or after graduation).
Fill an unknown need
Some businesses are late to the social media landscape or may not even recognize the benefits of a social media presence.
These situations are a great opportunity for you to hop in, gain experience, and help out a business.
Find different organizations in your area and take a look at their social media presence (if they have one).
Reach out to a promising one that looks like it could use an extra set of hands! Mention to the organization how you can see them utilizing social media, and indicate how you can make that happen.
If you make a compelling argument, you may find yourself with an opportunity to start a short-term contract and get a chance to prove your skills – or even a new full-time job.
Events are a top opportunity to build and prove your social media skills.
Whether they’re managing a stand-alone event or one that’s hosted by an organization, an event’s social media team can often benefit from extra help with promotions, building anticipation, increasing registrations and even posting in real-time during the event itself.
Look at local event calendars and find out what’s happening in your area, and see how you may be able to help.
Any opportunity (from a local community event to a charity fundraiser) can be a great place to get started!
Make sure to set aside time to work on your own social media presence.
Although this use isn’t the same as professional experience, it’s still a valuable opportunity to learn about marketing yourself while experimenting with different platforms.
Keep in mind that you should use your personal social media accounts to show employers that you know what you are doing – which means posting more than photos of your favourite food and social events.
Create a professional account and use it to post industry-related content, join in on conversations, network with others and build your personal brand and network.