A few weeks ago a recent college grad in NYC emailed me about a career in social media. She's renting the same room I first rented when I made the big move from Miami to NYC, and the landlord suggested she reach out to me for advice. Feeling nostalgic, I was excited to hear from this girl in the exact same spot I was in a few years ago. Then, I read her email. The grad went on and on about the horrific PR firm she was working for, and how they expect her to work ALL of the time, and there are no breaks throughout the day, and she feels like she should have no responsibility after 5pm. She asked me if it was just this firm, or if any career in PR and/or Social Media had these expectations. Oh my.
I was brutally honest with her, and I am guessing she did not want me to be as honest as she begged me to be, because I never heard back from her. My initial thought was, "Honey, I don't know of ANY job that stops at 5pm on the dot, these days." My more thought-through response was, "PR and Social Media never stop. People are always talking, and there is always going to have to be someone there responding. If you want to have no responsibilities after 5pm, then this is not the career for you." Do I regret being that harsh? Hell no! I wish someone had told me that before I stepped into the social media game. Not that it would have stopped me from pursuing my social media passion, but it would have at least given me a heads up to the emails and social posts I would be answering at 2AM in the morning at my first #SoMe job.
There is a huge, obvious disconnect between what people think we do as social media professionals, and what we actually do-- and that disconnect does not stop when it comes to students pursuing social media as a career. It's important that students understand what we ACTUALLY do, before they commit their lives to it.
The #1 reason I'm a social media pro?! Because it's my PASSION. I absolutely LOVE checking in and seeing what people are saying about a brand. I LOVE having 24/7 conversations, and always having the energy of thousands of people conversing surrounding me. I LOVE gaining insights about brands through the conversations their consumers are having, and studying human behavior and how explicit it is in social media. Without that passion, my job would SUCK, because I am monitoring all of that 24/7. There is no OFF button in social media. Sure, I have moments that I do yoga and meditation and disconnect from the craziness so I can stay sane, but they are not moments that come after a hard stop at 5pm, or take full weekends. And, I'm okay with that, because I am fortunate enough to have found a job that IS my passion.
So, my #1 tip for a student thinking about a career in social media?! Make sure you are PASSIONATE about social media. You must breathe it every single day, and love every aspect of it, if you want to be GOOD at it, and make a living off of it. (I believe this is true for any career, though.)
That's me, though. Some other professionals out there have their own views, and here are some of them: