I sit here, typing away at my keyboard sometimes thinking... I didn’t even study any marketing at uni, nor anything specific to social media, I’ve never had a Twitter/MySpace account and only started using Facebook after I left uni, years after everyone else. Yet here I am B2C marketer for the world’s largest student website, The Student Room.
Fact is, when I was in my final year of university I didn’t know what I wanted to do, I know a lot of people didn’t. However I was given one pearl of wisdom that has stuck with me ever since, and is something that has become more and more prevalent in my work and people looking to do similar things. It was all about “projects”.
University is more competitive than ever, so getting through Uni in itself just isn’t enough. There is a limited pool of work experience to tap into, so what else have you got...
In a survey conducted by ourselves in partnership with the IAB, we found that students’ free time is most likely (96%) to be used browsing the web. So, what exactly are people doing and what, from that, could you use to your advantage?
Last weekend I met with a fine group of people known as our Personal Statement helpers. On the site they are responsible for running our PS helper service, whereby anyone applying to university can request to have their personal statement reviewed for free. These guys give up their spare time online to help others, just knowing that their help will bring a positive change to someone’s future. When asked if this voluntary role would appear on their CV’s everyone nodded, some explaining how they had talked over the role in depth whilst in an interview. And why wouldn’t they? It shows fantastic commitment, dedication and selflessness.
But what have you got to boast about?
A blog for example; how you’ve collected a following that can’t wait to see your next post. Or a YouTube channel; creating your own tunes, silly animations or online video blogs. Or your online presence within forums; helping people out, answering questions, sharing your knowledge. Or you may be a prolific technology reviewer, aiding others make their decision when comparing the latest gadgets and gizmos. Or low level trading; I myself used to fund my social life at Uni by buying and selling on eBay for various levels of profit...
My point is is that there’s so much out there, you need to communicate your passions by showing how proactive you have been and what you’ve become involved in, in an online space.
Only last week I was invited to Parliament for the University Alliance’s ‘More than just a degree’ launch, which echoed many of the same sentiments. That university is no longer for the ribboned paper you receive at the end, there’s just so much more than that. To me, having gone through the system, University simply opens more doors and puts you in contact with people that will change your approach and thinking as to where you want to be and how to get there. Despite the rise in fee’s recently announced, I don’t think I could ever dissuade someone from going to university, if for nothing else but the experience and development you gain in just 3 (or so) years.
You also shouldn’t be afraid to take a chance. My favourite quote goes something like this “No-one will criticise you for something that goes wrong, if you did it for the right reasons”.
I myself took a chance and headed to Brighton for an internship straight after university. This all came about as a result of having used the website for 4 years, knowing the history and how things worked, all off my own back. As a result I was even allowed a 2 week internship at The Guardian in London before being offered a full time position with The Student Room back in Brighton.
Had I not taken the chance, I would never have had such a good summer or be where I am today, working on something I greatly enjoy with people that share my passion. Who knows where I would be had I not taken the chance.
Lastly, for anyone interested in a job in social media/online, check out what is currently available, even if you aren’t applying right now. I’d recommend sites such as Wired Sussex.
So to finish, the same question that I started with...What are your projects?