By Cait McKeon
Twitter, a social media phenomenon created by software architect Jack Dorsey, has swept its way across the world on the back of the little blue bird they hold as their logo.
As an easy access social media site, Twitter has recently been recognized for playing a practical part in the lives of college students. It cannot be compared to the camaraderie of Facebook or the wishy-washiness of MySpace–Twitter has been holding its own. This once small, podcasting company is now helping to secure the future of many college graduates, as well as students still currently enrolled and grasping at their future job prospects.
Kevin Burrows, a broadcast journalism sophomore here at Michigan State University, has discovered a way to use Twitter to his utmost advantage. After following his idol, news anchorman Vic Faust of Channel 7 Action News Detroit, on Twitter, Burrows decided to take the opportunity and contact Faust about following him on a job shadow.
“I just tweeted at him, ‘Hey what do you think about me doing a job shadow with you, it’s a requirement for my JRN 200 class’, then he asked me to call him,” Burrows explained. “The opportunity definitely made me realize that this was exactly what I wanted to go into.”
For Burrows, this opportunity was one that may have placed him on the map for future job prospects in the field that he truly aspires to be in. Across the country, students, professionals, and everyday citizens are using Twitter to grab at small and large breaks for their careers.
“Start by having a professional Twitter account – think of your future employers. Follow people of your professional interests so they can tell that you’re serious about this career. I followed Vic, but also many of his co-anchors and also many larger anchors such as Katie Couric,” said Burrows. “Think about what’s important and what you want to say. The first tweet should be simple but meaningful… that first tweet is crucial.”
While many of us are currently still getting into the swing of Twitter, companies are using it to their full advantage to see who is available to them, and also how they can make themselves available to their consumers.
Lauren Simonetti, a recent advertising graduate of Michigan State University, uses Twitter and LinkedIn to connect with companies that she has a personal or professional interest in.
“Twitter can be a great resource of information. Companies I followed would often post job opportunities on social networking sites before I found them using another resource,” said Simonetti.
Twitter offers a particularly easy and acceptable way to be able to stay in contact with opportunities one might be interested in.
“I used Twitter to connect with professionals and companies that I had previous interaction with. I made it a point to connect with professionals via Twitter after we had met at a career fair or through any of my internships,” Simonetti explained.
The ease and availability that Twitter is able to offer to college students, as well as the general public, is something that works well in the favor of those who are using the social media tool for professional reasons.
“Twitter is more legitimate than say, Facebook, because it’s more personal,” said Burrows. “You know it’s them and that you’re contacting them directly; anyone could pretend to be someone. Think of twitter as being trustful for professional interests.”
Twitter is a social media of give and take – what you put into Twitter is what you will get out. When close to 65 million tweets are being pounded out of computers, iPads, iPhones and other electronics daily, to be noticed, one needs to stand out from other generic tweets that are being tweeted by millions of people around the world.
“Demonstrate that you are engaged in the industry you are studying and people will take notice! Even if it doesn’t gain you an interview, it may play a significant role in getting you the [right] job,” said Simonetti.
Bonnie Bucqueroux, a journalism professor at Michigan State, uses Twitter as a learning tool in her classrooms to expose her students to social media.
“I encourage my students, rather beat them over the head, to use Twitter as crowd sourcing. Here are your story leads and where you build connections,” said Bucqueroux. “They need to begin following those in different communities to build connections, promote their stories, and gather better leads.”
Twitter does not stop being beneficial once college has come and gone away, but continues throughout when graduates search for more professional opportunities.
“Twitter has continued to be a great networking tool now that I have began my professional career. Many of the prospects we target come to us–a marketer’s dream–because we are providing relevant, compelling information that they want,” said Simonetti.
The help that Twitter lends does not stop with helping to secure professional opportunities, but also keeps people in tune with the most current and up to date proceedings of news, events, and promotions. While learning of news happenings in America, one can also hear the comings and goings of news all of over the world as Twitter is currently international and able to be read in sixteen different languages, expanding the marketplace for professional opportunities that much more.
While Twitter is a fun and interactive social media site, it can be used to a much higher potential by students and employers alike.
“Like you’ve been told by every professor at Michigan State University, human resource professionals pay attention to who you are on social media sites,” said Simonetti.
With this advice said, students should remember to keep their Twitter as professional as possible.
“Jay Rosen, a professor at New York University, once said that on Twitter there is mind casting and life casting,” Bucqueroux said. “Life casting is when you always tweet about how you’re going to grab a latte. Mind casting is tweeting about how making a latte works, news about recent events surrounding the latte, rather than just the latte itself. In this, you can deal with serious matters on twitter, not just use it as a marginal communication device.”
Your teachers were never pulling your leg about professionalism and your future, and now Twitter can truly help and secure that position you once thought was out of reach. With the help of professors and peers, that small blue bird may one day take a hold of the current job market and transform it into something much more futuristic than this world could have imagined.