When I tell my friends what I do for a living, they all have the same question: “So you just play on Facebook all day?” I’ve thought about this question many times and have come to the conclusion that that is exactly what I do. At first, I didn’t think the word “play” was an appropriate adjective to explain what I do on social media sites like Facebook. But as I thought about it more and more, I realized that I do not see social media marketing as work. Rather, it is something that is fun to do! The word “play” is usually used when referring to a game or sport. I now like to use it when I discuss my career in social media. Also, to me, social media is a sport.
Before I go any further, I’d like to discuss how I came to work in social media. In the first year of my MBA degree, I realized that my degree is great, but really means nothing without experience. I had been on many interviews for sales positions, but I never really wanted a sales job. Those sales interviews were just a way to strengthen my interviewing skills. As more and more of these interviews passed and I could not find any real marketing opportunities, I began to get disheartened by the thought that it may take a long time for me to find the job I really want. I was also searching for jobs when the economy wasn’t going so well, which only added to my fear of never finding a job I really wanted. It eventually got to the point where I needed some real guidance and help. That is when I went to my internship coordinator.
My first experience at my internship coordinator’s office was an eye-opening one. Right off the bat, she noticed why I wasn’t getting phone calls or interviews (besides the lack of experience). My resume was, for lack of a better term, garbage. Spacing issues, verb problems and lack of clear and precise information made my resume look atrocious. After that first visit to her office, I came out with a much more professional-looking resume. I thought the revised version would land me a job and, hopefully, a career. I was wrong again.
I returned to my internship coordinator’s office after a month or so of having no luck finding a job. That is when she sent an email that changed my life. One of the companies that worked closely with my school, Firm Media was now looking for a social media intern. Right away I got in contact with the COO and arranged an interview for the following week. The interview went extremely well and I got the internship. This was the turning point in my career path.
While I wasn’t exactly sure what I was getting myself into, I knew I needed any experience I could get. My school had no classes on social media marketing or content writing, so I came in as a complete “rookie” so to speak. On my first day, I was extremely nervous and scared to make a mistake. I think my colleagues noticed that and were nothing but polite and supportive, especially my boss who was the head of the social media department. He helped me understand what social media marketing was. My first few weeks were spent researching social media on sites like socialmediaexaminer.com, mashable.com, socialmediatoday.com and whole list of others. This helped me greatly because I was able to read the thoughts and opinions of real marketers, as well as research several areas of social media.
As my internship continued, I became more and more comfortable with the position and I learned a great deal of information. Eventually, I was trusted with trying to reach out to businesses in the Inland Empire (Southern California) to help promote an event called Eat & Be Well. This event helps serve Thanksgiving dinner to underprivileged families. Doing this made me more confident about social media marketing. In fact, San Bernardino’s Single-A baseball team, the 66ers, wanted to become a drop-off point for canned food for the event. This is when I really saw the value of social media. The message I had sent to them in the digital world was actually “coming to life” in the real world! Social media was turning into social networking. Other than actually working at the event itself, this was the highlight of my internship.
After my internship was complete, it was back to the old grind of school and work. I disliked my job and could not wait to get out of it. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen for another 6 months. During those 6 months, I went back to my internship coordinator’s office to see if there was anything she could do to help. By this time, the lady who helped me when I first needed assistance had moved onto another position. The new internship coordinator was just as good and just as helpful. She taught me a new technique for getting into contact with potential employers. The informational interview technique is one of the reasons I was able to learn about the real world of marketing. Through this technique, I was able to speak with many CMO’s and CEO’s of marketing firms who provided me with a plethora of information. I was able to connect with these marketers on sites like LinkedIn, which only helped grow my visibility on the site. These connections enabled me to make even more connections and learn even more valuable tools. These interviews went on for a while before I got the email I had been waiting for. Firm Media wanted to speak to me about an open position. The position was to assist the head of the social media department and work as a project coordinator. It was a dream come true! I started as soon as I could and have not looked back at my old job….and I never intend to!
Now that you have the overall backstory regarding my path to my current position in social media, I hope that you understand why I tell my friends I “play” on Facebook all day. I see the actual “work” as getting to where I am today. Now that I have my job, I get to “play” and have fun with social media. I love that I can be creative and try new ideas. I love that I can see almost instant results. I love that I get to “play” with new technologies and concepts. I love the fact that I can connect with so many people and help them with whatever they need. “Going to work” used to mean going to a job I disliked and could not wait to leave. Now, I can’t wait to go to work. My coworkers are amazing and the environment I work in encourages innovation and creative thinking (unlike my last job). So I guess what I’m trying to say is that I view my job as something that is extremely fun, satisfying, and challenging. Just think of what a sport or game is: fun, satisfying and challenging, right? That is why whenever someone asks me what I do, I naturally answer: “I play on social media all day.”
NOTE FOR CURRENT STUDENTS: I implore you to use every available resource at your school to help you prepare for and find a job. I made the mistake of not using all the resources my school offered, and it took me a lot longer than I would have liked to get where I am now. Also, if you are going to become a marketer, practice your writing! I wish someone had told me this while I was in school. Writing is such a key element to any marketer’s success. Please take the time to hone your writing skills and find someone who can help edit and provide you with constructive feedback.
My Internship Video