Have you ever caught yourself thinking sitting in class or at home, “I want to be a Community Manager…one day?” Maybe you’re scared off because many community management job listings require experience in a field that is relatively new. Or perhaps you think that because you are still in college you can’t be a Community Manager just yet. If you find yourself wanting to be a Community Manager after school, you should practice your skills by managing a community on campus. College is the perfect time to start practicing your community management skills and preparing for a career.
Represent A Student Organization
If you’re an aspiring Community Manager, pick your favorite student group and get to work. By acting as the voice for your dance troupe, intramural water polo team, or even your cooking club, you will learn basic skills before entering the job market. Lauren Wannermeyer, a senior Hospitality Management and Marketing student at Syracuse University, oversees the Twitter account of the local Alpha Gamma Delta chapter.
“Being the moderator for AGD has given me some valuable experience relaying the POVs of an international organization, a world renowned university, and 150 strong-minded women. It’s not always easy to fit all that into 140 characters, but dealing with that challenge now will help me (hopefully) be able to be the voice of a big company with multiple interests like Starbucks or JetBlue.”
Whether you are in a sorority or a theatre group, volunteer to start a Facebook page, blog, or YouTube channel for the organization. That way, you’ll have some practical experience when you are applying for that first job with a coffee chain or an airline. And keep track of the data you get from managing these assets. Analyzing data will be a very integral part of setting yourself a part from the competition later on.
Ask Around – Help is All Over!
Resources for budding Community Managers are everywhere like Social Fresh, the #Cmgrchat on Twitter, Linked In groups, and the site you’re currently reading this on. Get to know the people in your school’s career center, admissions office, alumni office, etc. These people are likely familiar with managing communities, and are usually the people you’d be able to connect with on LinkedIn or Twitter. If your school has a strong social media presence, this is an added bonus!
Find out who is responsible for the school’s digital outreach, and make it a goal to meet with this person to discuss your career aspirations. Personally, I’ve benefited a great deal from tweeting back and forth with a professor I never even had a class with. Relationships that you develop with faculty and staff members will continue to serve you even after you graduate.
Expand Your Social Circle
Students hear so often that it’s not “what you know,” but “who you know.” With this in mind, you should strive to meet as many people as you can while still in school. Join a new club; sit at a different table in the dining hall; do whatever you can to mingle with students you’ve never talked to before.
Chances are, you’re not the only one thinking of starting a career in a field that utilizes social media. Try to identify fellow students who have similar professional goals, and learn to lean on each other for help.
Focus on Something Else
It is important to dedicate time to building your network, practicing your voice & style, and developing other necessary skills. But if that’s the ONLY thing you spend your time on, you might be hurting yourself in the long run. Don’t ignore your personal relationships, and continue to explore your own interests that are completely unrelated to social media or your career.
From time to time, it’s perfectly acceptable to turn off your phone and just have a good time doing what college students do.