Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Keep Your Tools Sharp, Even When They Are In the Shed

posted by 
Michelle Myers,

Project Specialist,
Marketing/Communications,
ASU Lodestar Center
In 2009, I graduated from ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication with a bachelor's degree in journalism, public relations emphasis, and took an internship in Australia. After a short period of time, that public relations internship turned into a full-time job. A few months later, I decided to quit the PR job in Australia to return home and back to a job in the service industry I had all through college. (Not the best idea I've ever had.)

In addition to a great experience, my time in Australia came with two great epiphanies: I did not like working in an office and I wanted to travel. These lessons, combined with the income and flexible schedule of my job, brought me to the decision that I was going to take a year off to travel and figure out what I wanted to do with my life. Well, as we all know, one year can turn into two very quickly; and, while I was able to get quite a bit of traveling under my belt, I was no closer to deciding where I wanted my life to take me.

So, I did what anyone who has no clear indication of where she wants her future to go would do; I went back to school. I am now studying to get a master's degree in nonprofit studies (MNpS) from the ASU Lodestar Center. The structure and challenge of graduate school has reignited my motivation to find a "real job." Two years out of the game, I decided to brush off my PR boots and see what the world had to offer. I kept telling myself, “It’s just like riding a bike—you never forget.” Well, I certainly did not forget what I had learned, but two years in the social media world is like a century in normal time.

 At first, the idea of having outdated knowledge never crossed my mind. I was happy to find a part-time marketing position with the Lodestar Center because of my degree and freelance experience. At this point I was feeling pretty good about my situation. I was back in school, and I had a part-time job that would combine my undergrad and graduate fields of study. Then the moment came where I fully grasped the effects of my absence. On the first week of my new job I was asked which social media dashboard I preferred. I didn't know how to respond. I suddenly felt like I was riding a single speed rusty bike with two flat tires in the Tour de France.

After a brief moment of sheer panic, I realized the theories I had studied in school hadn't changed, but the vehicles for them had. Lucky for me, a few simple Google searches brought the last two years of social media advances to my fingertips. The following week became a whirlwind of social media research and YouTube tutorials. I had to reset the passwords on my Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr and Skype accounts because I hadn't logged in for so long. I became a member of Pinterest, subscribed to multiple YouTube channels and RSS feeds. And, yes, I learned about social media dashboards, such as Threadsy, Hoot Suite and Tweet Deck. I learned about Facebook timelines, link shortening and became a fan of Socialbrite. I found the pros and cons of QR codes and NFCs (Near Field Communication). I discovered what Google Plus was, how to check-in using Foursquare and finally had a complete understanding of what Wikis are. I started tweeting, updating, tagging, posting, following and pinning.

This social media crash course I went on could have all been avoided if I had periodically kept myself informed in my time off. I would not change those two years of soul search, if you will, but I do now understand the need to continuously keep yourself updated in your field of choice, because you never know when you are going to have to get back on that bike.

 And in case you were wondering, Tweet Deck is the social media dashboard I prefer.


Michelle is a part-time Project Specialist, Marketing & Communications, at the ASU Lodestar Center. She is currently a full-time student in the Master's of Nonprofit Studies program at ASU, planning to graduate in May of 2013.


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8 comments:

  1. Hi Michelle: great reminder to stay current on what's going on in our respective fields. Best of luck to you!

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  2. Greetings Michelle, thanks for your transparency. As I stand at the edge anticipating my leap back into the work force, I routinely ask myself if my tools are sharp. Am I ready? In just a few short paragraphs you addressed areas where I had also let some dust collect. However, thanks to the great support I have received from fellow students, professors, and Career Services - my answer is yes, I am ready. I am ready not only to re-enter the workforce but also to be a lifelong learner and keep my tools sharp.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Greetings Michelle, thanks for your transparency. As I stand at the edge anticipating my leap back into the work force, I routinely ask myself if my tools are sharp. Am I ready? In just a few short paragraphs you addressed areas where I had also let some dust collect. However, thanks to the great support I have received from fellow students, professors, and Career Services - my answer is yes, I am ready. I am ready not only to re-enter the workforce but also to be a lifelong learner and keep my tools sharp.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Michelle, I'm like you in the sense that I was struggling with a career path. I was a kinesiology major and just recently switching into therapeutic recreation in the school of parks and recreation at ASU. I've been pretty reluctant to get a twitter account just because I do not see the point on updating people on my every move. But again, like you, I have been feeling the pressure to join the twitter fad because not having one makes me feel out of the loop. This post may have just been to push I needed to finally cave. Best of luck to you!

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  5. You made an excellent point, Michelle. When we fall out of sync in a certain area, it's amazing how fast we get behind while the world is constantly rennovating its social media life! I can imagine that while traveling, you didn't have much time to think about the newest Facebook update or the release of Pinterest. Even when I take a week break from Facebook, I feel like I miss a whole year of information! Although some people might not feel that they "need" a social media account in their life, it surely does make a huge impact on what we know and when we hear about certain things.

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  6. Hey Michelle, it was awesome reading your testimonial on how keeping up with the times really does have an effect on careers and job positions today! I was really impressed that you found an internship and Australia because I am a Tourism Major and I hope to work at least some part of my career there as well. I also like how your story also showed me that "it is just like riding a bike", even when faced with an obstacle, like being behind on current social media, good old hard work and determination can always pull you through. Thanks for the great read!

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  7. Thanks for sharing your personal journey...it's especially encouraging that you jumped back in & got up to speed very quickly, with social media!!

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  8. Michelle,
    Thank you for your perspective of social media. . . I appreciate your insight and make very good points. I am 24 years old and graduating this year from ASU. I do not use, Twitter, Facebook and have barely use Linkedin. I work at a Non-Profit and do see how valuable the free social media can be. However, respectfully I feel as though depending on the position and or role someone is looking at professionally it is not vital to know the ins and outs of these websites. I think that building relationships hands on is what is considered to be sincere. I appreciate your thoughts and thank you for sharing.

    ReplyDelete

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