You Can Do It! How YTH Live’s Social Media Lounge Helped Me Own My Expertise

Are you a millennial?  Have you ever interviewed for a position where potential employers expected you to have an inherent ability for all things social media (but you’ve never blogged before or you’ve only used Twitter for keeping up with friends and celebrities)? I feel you.

As a Youth Advisory Board member for YTH, I was asked to help facilitate the Social Media Lounge with AIDS.gov during the 2014 YTH  Live Conference. The Social Media Lounge was a space conference goers could visit in order to ask questions about social media platforms. We covered everything from LinkedIn, to Pinterest, to blogging, to Instagram, to YouTube, and so on.

SMLounge1

To prepare, Youth Advisory Board members and I filled out a sheet to show our proficiency and comfort level for assisting people with each of the tools. I remember second guessing myself a lot while filling it out. I barely put my name down, and for the sites I did feel comfortable with, I didn’t give myself high marks.

However, once I arrived at the Lounge, I ended up being a really helpful resource to some of the people that stopped by. One conference goer I assisted actually raved to YTH’s Executive Director Jamia Wilson (!!) about how helpful I was. Looking back, I absolutely sold myself short.

Working with a conference-goer in the Social Media Lounge

Working with a conference-goer in the Social Media Lounge

Now that I have had some time to reflect on the fact that many young people have more skills than we realize, I have put together some tips on how to recognize your social media abilities, and advice on how to market them during job interviews.

  • Look at the sites you use regularly.

Personally, I use Facebook and Twitter the most, and I have some experience with WordPress. Do you use certain sites for academic purposes, networking, or keeping up with friends? Figure out what you’ve accomplished on them, but don’t stress about writing down your knowledge on every function of each site. Focus on your daily or weekly use and how your activity on those sites could translate professionally. Own your strengths and fill the gaps by researching best practices on Mashable and similar sites.

  • Think about ways the business/organization/company you’re considering working with could benefit from social media engagement.

If you follow or like any brands on your social media sites, what attracts you to them? Look at how they use social media and if you consider it effective or not. Are similar organizations using tools like blogs or YouTube, or hosting a Twitter chat each week/month?

  • Do your homework!

It’s good to come prepared. Before your interview, check out if the organization already has a presence on social media. Look over their website to see if it’s user friendly and easy to understand their brand/mission. Check the last time they tweeted. This (and the previous bullet) will help you make suggestions on how you could be relevant to them. At the end of the interview, offer friendly suggestions like, “I noticed you don’t have a blog. I have experience blogging for a class and would be happy to help keep content fresh!” or “I help run a Facebook page for a group I’m involved with at school. Are you considering creating a presence on Facebook?”

  • Still doubting your social media skills? Ask about webinars and trainings available that are relevant to the position you’re interviewing for.

Don’t worry if you don’t feel comfortable with certain sites. If, as a millennial, you’re expected to be familiar and handy with sites that you’re not as confident about, ask about learning opportunities and professional development support! Many employers offer to pay for training sessions and  webinar classes. Acknowledging where you’d like to build strength exhibits initiative and shows enthusiasm towards being a company asset.

To quote my YTH mentor, Jenna Gaarde, there’s “always more for people to learn” and “always something you can bring to the table.” Even if you’re not on social media sites professionally or every day, your experiences are valuable.

You can do it!

Rebecca Lehner youth leaderRebecca Lehner (@r_lehner) is a member of YTH’s Youth Advisory Board.

She attends American University in Washington, D.C. studying anthropology, and gender and sex studies. She hopes to broaden dialogues on sexuality and identity within school health curriculums in order to educate and empower youth, reduce discrimination, and increase acceptance and understanding. +Learn more about Rebecca

Image by Stephen Texeira Photography

 


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