Photo Credit: Career and Student Employment Services
There is often a discussion as to why students should be engaged on social media. We all know the stats. Almost everyone has a Facebook account. Platforms seem to explode in popularity like Pinterest and Instagram. For the most part, students view this as not only a social atmosphere (as the title social media would suggest), but a very private activity. This comes with a strong sense of irony as it is occurring on the internet.
So knowing that the internet is public, how can we as professionals engage our students in learning how to use social media for a much greater purpose? How can we show that by re-purposing at least one tool, they will be working towards their professional development?
This past March marked the 2nd annual, "Michigan Industry Road Trip." This 5-day program during the student's spring break connects students to companies in the engineering industry. The first time we went on the trip, my colleague and I through the idea of using Twitter out there to those that could. We didn't require anything and didn't do much other than teach the platform to those that wanted to join, but didn't know how. We had some interaction, but nothing measurable.
This year marked a more proactive approach and much more planning went into consideration. My plan was to give the students a sense of purpose. WHY would I want to use Twitter? The short answer was to be able to provide an opportunity to reflect on their experience to help them with the post-trip assessment, the longer answer was much more.
Students in their reflection interacted with the twitter accounts of the companies that we visited. Some of the accounts were given to them, but a great majority were found and shared by the students. These company accounts replied, retweeted, and followed many of the students. The students were now not only connecting with companies in the flesh, but online as well. You can still catch many of the interactions with #MIRoadTrip13
This is just the start of a much larger conversation. We returned from the trip and recently met to reflect. I flat out asked, "What is the benefit of using Twitter?" Many of them recited my original reason, but many defined Twitter for themselves. "It is an opportunity to connect and gather more resources that we couldn't have before." I also followed up with, "So should we stop pursuing this as part of the trip." To which they all said, "NO! But I need to make sure we have wifi constantly available for those without smartphones." To be fair, the biggest limitation to this experience was that our bus did not have wifi.
This post is meant to be a recap on an amazing experience. The students exceed involvement from last year and the quality of post was increased as well. Students reflected, shared photos, and engaged with the companies, all to help develop their professional identity. We concluded the recap session with a lesson on LinkedIn, an addition avenue for developing their professional online identity, and we talked about cleaning up what they thought was their private accounts.
This post is also meant to be a conversation starter on how to have these conversation with students. How else can we engage our students? What programs are you doing to develop student's understanding of their professional online identity? Comment below and thank you for reading!
image credit: http://www.visualstorytelling.com
This past week, I was asked to participate in the creation of a web video series for the graduate college. These videos were to be a series of videos to help prepare graduate students coming to the university. The section I was selected to help out with was a discussion on using social media as a graduate student. The video was a conversation with the VP of Institutional Research, who is also a professor in the school of communication, the Director of Career and Student Employment Services, and myself. We talked about the pros, cons, and just general ideas about using social media as a graduate student. During this conversation, I described social media as a digital cafeteria. Reflecting back, it could not have been the more perfect analogy to describe the world we know as Social Media
Your Table is Your Network
You have the ability to choose whatever table you want to sit at and you get to choose who sit's at the table with you. This is similar to your networks online. Even Twitter has the ability to block an unwanted guest at your table. You have the ability to hop from table to table in the same sense that you can have multiple sites, each containing your network. You can make the table as big or as small as you want.
Your Volume of Voice: Who is truly hearing you?
You have the ability to speak real quiet and to a select few people. You also have the ability to stand up on the table and scream at the top of your lungs. Ultimately, your network is the one that is going to hear you the most and others may listen in, but they are too having their own conversations. In fact, the louder you are, the more people may be annoyed with you, so be careful of how you are saying things.
You Don't Know if the People Walking by are Listening
We take social media for granted. Many of us believe that what we say, even with the safest and strictest settings, is protected from those we don't want to hear. Much like the people that walk by in the cafeteria, you don't know who is ultimately listening to you. They may not be at your table, but they may have a friend in common and magically come across your conversation. All of sudden, you are no longer safe.
What you Say Should be Expected to be Heard by All
It was shared to me that you should be "personally professional" with your social networks. Feel free to be you, but be aware that "private" is not really private. Have a professional sense of self, even if all you are talking about is the Superbowl or the latest episode of Revenge. If a future employer stumble upon your stuff, because you are all a member of the same cafeteria, would you be embarrassed?
What does your table in the digital cafeteria look like? Have you Googled yourself lately? How can you clean your place up so that anyone can sit at your table?
Image credit: http://www.frozzo.com
I created a Twitter account back in 2009. But shortly after creating it, I deleted it because I did not see a point. All of my “followers” were my “friends” on Facebook, so why did I need to hear information twice.
A couple years later, right upon my graduation from WMU, I created my current account @joshkohnert. Again, I did not see much purpose other than to “stalk” celebrities and get breaking news. I still failed to see what all the hype was and only made 10 or so tweets and 5 or 6 followers before I put it again on the back burner for the summer.
This July, I started my current position as a Graduate Assistant for Career and Student Employment Services. My mentor Chris Sell is an avid Twitter user and was able to drop some knowledge. Follow that up with hearing Ed Cabellon speak at a conference, and fire just raged inside full of optimism, motivation, and inspiration. Through actively using Twitter from July to now, I currently have made over 7,100 tweets and have a gathering of followers of 500. I am continually growing as a professional, and it comes from networking.
Twitter, like any social media, is still about building your network. Yes it still has lots of fun, quirky things to do like follow television shows and celebrities. With your network, you have to ask yourself, who do you want in it.
Of course I want my friends to be in it, but I wanted something more. After listening to both Chris and Ed, there is a definite ability to engage with others that share the same interests as you, and the best part is, they can come from all over the world.
I could go on and on about my personal adventure with Twitter, but I want to give some quick tips for using Twitter. These are strictly my own experiences/views and you absolutely have the right to disagree:
1. Don’t have two accounts – the Professional You and the Personal You. This could be an entirely new conversation, but long story short is that a.) To help get to know others, it is helpful to share some about you b.) The things that you feel the need to hide from others in your “personal” account shouldn’t really be on the internet period.
2. Go explore – Use the search option for keywords related to what you want your network to be revolved around. It can be interest based or profession based. By exploring and searching you can come across hashtags to follow and network off of.
3. Get involved in chats on Twitter – It sounds like a ridiculous thing, but by using the hashtag, you can actually have conversations with people. Some groups and organizations schedule times to meet and chat using their hashtag. In Student Affairs, the big conversation is Student Affairs chat on Thursdays from 1pm – 2pm EST using the hashtag #SAchat. That same evening is Enrollment Management Chat from 9pm – 10pm using the hashtag #EMchat. While I converse on both, I am personally more involved with #EMchat. I am a huge fan and take part in the Student Affair Technology chat on Wednesdays from 3:00pm - 3:30pm at #SAtech
4. Follow people and interact with them – Just like networking in real life, sometimes you need to start the conversation.
5. Have Fun – It is a great way to learn more about your profession, share your thoughts, and gain a new perspective on what it means to network with others.
Join Twitter so that you may develop your own network. I can safely say I wouldn't know what I know and be the professional that I am without my network. I have a long list of people I talk with on Twitter that I now want to meet in the physical world. If you need help with Twitter, feel free to comment below. Want to connect? Feel free to follow me and start the conversation!
It has been a little over 3 months since I decided on my word to focus on for the year. I feel like it is time to do an update.
So what is new with "Me"
Well first is that I created this website as my professional site and official home for my blog, "Living in Student Affairs." I enjoyed using wordpress.com, but I want everything to be in a centralized home. Once I am employed as a staff member and have a little extra cash, this will become my domain.
I am finishing up school. This semester has been a joy and I have learned quite a bit. I continue to redefine my view on what it means to incorporate technology into higher education. I have learned quite a bit about Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and passed the Mentoring and Advising Program with Gallup. I am beyond excited to continue my work with strengths at my internship with the Office of Student Strengths Development at Kalamazoo Valley Community College.
With my #SAfit campaign, I pledged to do a better job of getting sleep and being mindful of what I consume. I am proud to say that I am doing a much better job at getting a full night's sleep, which has reduced my caffeine intake. Next steps will be to figure out how to put more exercise into the routine, which is difficult due to how random my days and weeks are as a graduate student.
I just finished up the 2nd Annual Michigan Industry Road Trip, which is the largest project of my work in Career Services. I am beyond pleased with the level of professionalism, humor, and learning that took place this past week with the 17 students that went on this year's trip. A future post will be in the works to talk about the way we used twitter on the trip.
What is next for "me"?
There is a lot coming my way. This semester is coming to a fast end, which has several papers and projects. I am doing a research paper with a colleague that combines the two different classes we are taking. I now have time to really focus on the job search. By the next update on "Me" I hope to have news about my future in terms of a job and that I graduated with my Master's degree.
That is all for now! Thanks for reading. If you have a #oneword2013, please comment below and share an update on your year!
What is a hacker? Many of us believe it is a person that wants to get in and steal all of our personal information. Some may remember it as a terrible movie staring Angelina Jolie. But there is much more to this word "hacker." What I am going to get into in this post is actually a presentation I made to our staff at our last staff meeting.
Hackers at its core is a few things: 1.) Investigating 2.) Problem Solving 3.) Being Lazy 4.) Sharing what you know so that others may comment. By being investigative, you begin to identify areas of success and areas of improvement. Being investigative also means you look to build an understanding based on an inherent curiosity. Through identifying the areas of improvement, you begin to want to problem solve. Ideally, you want to become lazy because it means you have found the solution that will make your life easier. In finding your solution, sharing starts the cycle all over again as we interact and compare our life notes.
So much of the world has always been trained/learn/do through the resources presented to us. That meant for the longest time a little manual, or a series of lectures or workshops in which you had to get yourself there and sit with the person in the room. Today, there is a neat little invention called "Google." In it contains information from people all over the world. The resources now with Google have become unlimited! So much of how we train/learn/do has now evolved into a bottomless bin of tips/tricks/'hacks" to make our lives easier.
Just because our usage of technology is not visible to a student does not mean that it isn't helping them. My prime example of this would be our usage of Google Drive, specifically Google forms, in Career and Student Employment Service. It originated at my Office at Parkview where previously students would sign-in on a piece of paper. They would sign-in sparatically, so the student working the front of the office would have to come back and interrupt me to let me know there was another student. There had to be a more efficient way... We developed the Career Zone, a drop-in hub for students to get their career needs addressed. On the hypothetical idea train, multiple students could all come in at once. Were we going to have them too sign in on paper, or would there be a more efficient way.
The usage of a Google form which is then accessed in a spreadsheet keeps track of the order in which students signed in. In my office at Parkview, it means the "front of the house" and the back where I am at are in constant communication. We have even developed a system among the staff in the zone to have our own performance tracking. While not visible, at least to the fullest extent, to the student, they are being bettered by the efficiency our use of technology has made.
So what does this all mean, how do I be a hacker? Do I want to be a hacker? The answer is yes and it is simple.
Identify the littlest of problems: How can you resolve this? Is there a permanent fix or a process to make it easier to deal with?
Solve those problems: Can you find an easier way to do it? Do other's already solve this issue one way?
Share your results: Ultimately, we get better as a whole the more we communicate what we have learned. No need for secrets.
You do not have to know everything instantly: Just knowing one new thing means it is one more thing than you did before.
Google is your friend: Just because the first link made absolutely no sense does not mean all 3 million links are going to be the same.
Fail Fast and Fail Often: Through failure, you learn the most. If you are learning by doing, it is better to fail after a few hours rather than a few days of work.
I will close like this, to be a hacker in life it comes down to this:
Be Curious! Be Lazy! Learn! Rome wasn't built in a day...but it did take trials and errors!
P.S. #SAtech is a community on Twitter devoted to the coversation of technology and how it impacts student affairs. We converse Wednesdays at 3pm and the topics change weekly!