Like many #SAMillennials, I use social media to stay connected to my #SAPro life at all times. I feel that it keeps me in the loop and allows me to serve my students more effectively. For me, social media is about more than social connection, though. Too often, discussion about using social media in higher education becomes bogged down in issues of compliance and resources. While those things are really important, there are also many ways we can help ourselves by using social media as #SAPros. These are my top three:
1. Supporting & Mentoring
Facebook is a great tool to seek and provide support to fellow #SAPros. Specifically within Facebook groups, I’ve learned a tremendous amount about the struggles I share with my peers. The options are endless. On Facebook, you can find groups specific to interests, functional areas, or identities, and all of them give people space to share ideas, resources, and support with like-minded professionals and mentors who may not be in the same geographic area.
Currently, I’m a member of general student affairs groups, professional association groups, and a group specific to my graduate school cohort, among others. The #SAPros in my groups share job postings, engage in encouraging conversations, and offer to review resumes or personal statements. As a member of these communities, I feel more comfortable with both providing and receiving support from my peers.
I also tell my students to take advantage of these social media platforms. We have Career Services and alumni groups on Facebook and LinkedIn for students to use to find mentors, a Pinterest page with ideas for professional interview attire, and others.
2. Help for Your #SASearch & Networking
Social media is a great tool to add to your #SASearch repertoire. Last year, I created a “Social Media in the Job Search” handout for students that addressed this idea in more detail, but the idea is that students can use social media to help them develop a personal brand and market themselves better. They can also search for companies on Instagram or Snapchat to learn about company culture or find professionals with whom they can do informational interviews on LinkedIn.
A lot of campus offices also have social media accounts. They might even share office photos, which can help you learn more about their initiatives, office traditions, and events. I use pages like this to stay up to date on what’s trending at my institution, but the networking pays off when it’s time for your #SASearch, too.
Beyond that, hiring managers often share job opportunities on social media to reach a wider audience. That reward is twofold, because you can reach out and have conversation with them to learn more about the position.
3. Professional Development & Current Events
I spent a lot of time this year reading articles on Twitter and Facebook about current topics in higher education. By following leaders in the field, I identified upcoming professional development opportunities and learned about unfamiliar topics. This was the easiest way for me to read articles because I spent so much time moving from one place to another. I remained engaged and made comments directly from my iPhone instead of missing out on learning opportunities.
If you think social media only works for #SAMillennials or that it just isn’t for you, that’s okay. There are plenty of other ways to do the things I mentioned. Social media is still my favorite approach, though. It allows me to speak the same language as my students, even when they reference things I haven’t heard of. That’s worthy of a “like” if you ask me!