Dear Career Services Professional,
Let me begin by stating that I have the utmost respect and empathy for your office. There will always be more students at your school than there will be of you. Understaffed and often under-funded, your office has a monumental amount of responsibility. As the frontline for employment for your students, you have a task that is exceptionally challenging. Helping students with everything that's related to a job search takes patience, knowledge, empathy, networking, and a tolerance for ambiguity. Seniors show up to your office during their final term of school and hope that you can make magic happen. Employers give you feedback that your students aren't fully prepared. And you absorb their critiques and continue doing amazing work. You put on workshops throughout the year, a career fair every now and then, and do your best to educate and inform your students. It's a sisyphean task. The majority of your students are using your institution as a stepping stone to their future careers.
Career services is a pressure cooker of a functional area in student affairs. Perhaps the most anxiety-ridden and exciting aspect of your department is that you have to be engaged in lifelong learning so that you are ready to fully serve your students.
For example, let's look at social media. Social media channels are frequently used by students as conduits for networking, research, and job acquisition. What does this mean for you as a career services professional? Well, I think that it means that you no longer have a choice about being "on social media." It's not an option. Is email an option? How about having a phone in your office? Do you talk with students? Social media is part of the job. If you don't want to increase your fluency and competency with Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, etc., you're basically telling me and your students that you are okay with limiting the way in which you help them. That's unacceptable. It's like someone saying "that's not my job" when asked to do a task that could help their office. That type of behavior isn't tolerated in the workplace and it surely shouldn't be okay in your office.
So where do you go to find out more about how career services offices are using social media. Here, let me Google that for you…sorry, I couldn't resist. But, seriously, if you can't search for examples, you're basically starting from square one. And, square one is not where students need us to be. A couple of quick queries on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn result in a plethora of higher education career services accounts.
- Facebook + Career Services
- Twitter + Career Services
- YouTube + Career Services
- LinkedIn + Career Services
And, if you're thinking about exploring what your career services office can do with Google+, go ahead and check out how Syracuse University is connecting SU alumni with current graduates on G+ Hangouts.
I realize that the hardest part about being great at using social media is that it takes a bit of time to get over that initial learning curve. However, when you're better at using social media, you'll be better at using it with your students. And, at the end of the day, being fully-equipped to help your students is the raison d'être of your work. I know that you can be better at using social media. Get your entire team on board. Maybe you will take the lead in your office. Showing your colleagues how this "stuff" works. Take your time, experiment, and continue to do great work.
Do you tweet? Let's connect. Follow me on Twitter.