Students do not routinely think of social media as a means to build job resources, a UA career counseling professional said in an interview.
Rickey Lee Booker Jr., the director of UA Career Services doesn’t normally see students using social media to find jobs, he said.
“There are a lot of employers that are hiring students from LinkedIn, a lot more than in previous years. In previous years it was more of just a way to connect with people. It was kind of like a business card. You connect with them through that,” Booker said. “So, now it’s really changed because employers are on there so much that they’re actually seeking out students now based on their LinkedIn.”
The focus has since shifted to figuring out how to utilize social media in a positive way to lead students to their next career or internship opportunity.
“Keep in mind that there’s not one place or one solution. So, it’s really about diversifying your search. We try to get all of those on similar systems but it doesn’t always happen,” said Erica Estes, director of Employer Relations for Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences said.
“And in this case, if students put a little more time and effort into their profile they might add some extra experiences and update what their career interests are so that those kinds of jobs and events are pushed towards them.”
Gina Shelton, a UA journalism instructor and internship director, called on students to take the initiative.
“My best advice for students is to let your professors know what you’re interested in. Some employers want a personal recommendation – they are not interested in a wide-open ad.
“I encourage students to be very visible online. Have a Twitter account that shows you are engaged and active in the journalism/public relations world,” she said. “Create a LinkedIn account, with a professional headshot. The Career Center offers free photo sessions and assistance with LinkedIn and resumes.”
Among the resources that Estes said the university offers students is a program called Handshake. As an online career platform, students can use it to find jobs, internships or career events happening on campus.
“They can also reach out to other students who work for a company that they might be interested in and employers can also reach out to students if they click to make their profiles public. Employers can reach out to them if they think they fit certain qualifications. Any employer that is on handshake is able to reach out to 100 students at each institution once a semester. So, it’s not unlimited, they have to pick and choose.
“So, that’s why it’s important for students to make sure their profile is up to date and exhaustive because every UofA student has a handshake profile already,” Estes said. “Just because you’re a UofA student – just like you all have UAConnect access – it’s the same kind of thing.”
But Estes also has found it difficult to strike that perfect balance of just the right amount of social media.
“There are just so many opportunities, it’s really easy for things to get lost and I get that and I struggle with figuring out with the best way to message students and not crowd them out,” Estes said. “So, I try really hard not to send more than one email a week to people because I just don’t want to overdo it and have people just start deleting them.”
“Students should be savvy in using it to their advantage, making sure their social media footprint is an asset,” she said.
Student preparation also plays a role in job hunting, Booker said.
“Students come to college to get a job but I find it strange that quite a few students don’t really focus on their career until it’s their senior year,” he said. “But if the main reason is to get a job at some point then there needs to be a little bit of a balance between academics, fun, extracurricular activities and focusing on your career at the same time. That’s what really helps you develop into a well-rounded person.”