What do I want to be when I grow up?

I was shy in the second grade. I was the girl that would still hide behind my mom if I could and say nothing when someone cut in front of me in the hot lunch line. Anyway, my class did this project about what we wanted to be when we grew up. How original, I know. We had to write the name of our career in big letters at the bottom of a paper and then draw a picture of ourselves above it. The big twist? Our parents were going to have to try and guess which nameless picture belonged to their child during parent night. The pressure was on…time to sharpen those colored pencils.

At that tender young age, my heart yearned for my future career to involve fuzzy animals with big eyes and wagging tails. Can you guess? I wanted to be a veterinarian. Well, as I was staring down at my blank piece of generic, white printer paper, I started to get nervous about writing down the name of my career aspiration. You see, we had been learning about how the letter h can be that tricky silent letter that gets thrown in a word sometimes for no good reason. My mind started turning on itself needless to say, and I will shamelessly admit that I didn’t know at the time if I could spell the word veterinarian correctly. Was there a silent letter h in it?! Long story short, I ended up writing down the career of a hairdresser instead. Now there is a letter h you can actually hear!

When my mom got home from parents night, she was so surprised at my career and wondered why I didn’t write down a veterinarian. I told her I couldn’t remember how to spell that. She asked why I didn’t just write down vet or ask my teacher. I suppose I could’ve used the nice, shortened three letter version of my career, but that just didn’t cross to my second grade mind, and I was too scared to ask the teacher. And that’s it right there. What my shyness really came down too was simple – fear. I feared being in a situation I didn’t feel comfortable in, so I made something up just to get by.

You may be asking what my second grade story has to do with anything, so I will give an explanation. I am happy to say that I learned not to take the easy way out of things anymore, and I don’t believe in cutting corners. I should’ve asked my teacher that day how to spell veterinarian, although in the end, it really didn’t matter, because I was so young. But, there comes a time in life when someone asks you what you want to do for a career, and you can’t just make something up anymore. We grow up, decisions must be made, and they can be scary to face. I will not let fear hold me back, and I’m jumping into learning all about the big, bold writing career I someday hope to have.

Gone are the days though when people only communicate via a standard piece of paper as I did with my second grade project. Today, we have more options open to us through social media like blogging. I also don’t use colored pencils to design –I type or use one of many programs like InDesign. It’s not hard to see the differences in the career assignments. Granted, I’m older now as well, but I think my point is clear. Times have changed, and the world communicates a lot through the ginormous sensation we call internet. I know if I want to be a writer, I’m most likely going to be utilizing the kind of platform I am right now – social media.

I like to back up my suspicions about social media use in my writing career however, so I went on the hunt to see what others had to say about the topic. I came across a beyond fabulous post about just that topic on a public relations blog. Although I have the compulsion to quote the entire article, I’ll just share a sampling. “From a professional standpoint, involvement in social networks offers a bevy of opportunities, beyond improving one’s writing. You can test messages and campaign concepts, floating messaging to your social audiences, and observing which reverberate, and which fall flat” (Skerik, 2011). I love this point and plan to start using it myself as well as in the rest of my professional life. Online offers a chance to experiment and find out how your style and voice connects to people (in a cost effective way).

I am in college now, but that’ll be different in about two and a half years. I’ll soon be on the prowl for professional writing jobs but how exactly I go about looking like a star quality candidate still remains to be a bit of a mystery to me. Dan Schawbel, author of Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success, explains in his book that “…anyone can become successful by using social media tools, such as blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, in order to stand out and make a name for themselves” (PR Newswire, 2009). Particularly in the beginning of my career, I am really going to want and try to differentiate myself in any way I can. I should try to showcase special interests or talents, like my excessive reading habit for example. While I couldn’t always put these characteristics on my resume or in my portfolio, I am easily able to respectfully have them as a part of my personal social media. It will give potential employers the advantage of getting to know me.

I have recently become aware of the fact that social media is not only a useful side tool to access, but it could be a prospective writing career for me if I decide to pursue it. There are specific jobs devoted to it now, and that tells me right away that as a writer, I’m going to be seeing a lot of social media. “Social media is a field that a lot of companies are still trying to figure out, so they’re willing to pay knowledgeable people a good salary to do the work for them” (PR Newswire, 2012). Social media is clearly no longer a hobby. Companies use it for their advertising and public relations departments. For all I know, I’ll end up in a social media career. “In today’s world, newspaper reporters are being replaced by online bloggers and podcasters. Classified ad salespeople are being replaced by ‘social media account executives,’ and there are a whole slew of other jobs that are going online and turning social” (PR Newswire, 2012).

Social media is an industry that is expanding, and it’s one I would be smart not to overlook. It gives me just what I am looking for – diverse writing and communication opportunities.

And just as a side note…I’ve conquered that tricky silent letter h and am a much more proficient speller now days. Shout out to spell check!

References

Jobs in social media, community of social media professionals, analyzes salary trends in this burgeoning industry. (2012, Oct 18). PR Newswire. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.gvsu.edu/docview/1112716271?accountid=39473

New book explains how college students can use social media to attract jobs. (2009, Apr 07). PR Newswire. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.gvsu.edu/docview/448166194?accountid=39473

S Skerik. (2011, Aug. 29). Writing Lessons Learned From Social Media. [Web log comment]. Retrieved from http://blog.prnewswire.com/2011/08/29/writing-lessons-learned-from-social-media/

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