Please welcome Becca Fick, my first “On The Go” Guest Blogger! Becca and I have gotten to know each other over Twitter and I admire the way she leveraged social media to help her find a job out of Graduate School. Today, Becca shares her story on how she did it, and provides the other side to Mike Severy’s recent post on the Student Affairs Blog.
I set up my Twitter account in December 2008 after a colleague convinced me it was useful for keeping up with friends across the country. Neither of us could have predicted the impact it would have on my job search a year and a half later. Though Twitter is a social networking tool for many, it is my primary professional networking tool.
Twitter played three key roles in my job search:
- Connected me with other Student Affairs professionals and formed a support system.
- Validated my experience and classroom knowledge.
- Gave me perspective on what employers were looking for and my institutional fit.
The relationships formed through Twitter have evolved from a network to a support system. I’m not the first to say that people just don’t understand what exactly we do in our jobs, let alone why we are so committed to doing it. Connecting with other professionals through Twitter, especially those engaged in the #sachat community is a refreshing change. It lets me move beyond explaining what I do—to collaborating (and commiserating) with others in the field.
A few members of the #sachat community volunteered to review candidate resumes and offer critiques in February, an opportunity I took advantage of. @EdCabellon and @clconzen reviewed my resume and provided critical feedback. These reviews took our interactions beyond Twitter, to phone calls and email follow-ups. My online connections were quickly becoming an integral part of my professional network.
Weekly discussions through #sachat have given me a forum to share my experiences and test the value of my education with other professionals. These conversations affirmed that my perspective was valuable for more than just a case study or midterm paper. Talking about my work through Twitter has added an additional reflective component that translated well into interviews.
Sharing my thoughts on assessment, recognition, leadership development, student leader training and an abundance of other topics helped me prepare to discuss these topics in interviews. Although I knew about StrengthsQuest and StrengthsFinder, it was my Twitter colleagues who convinced me to check it out. And it’s a good thing they did, it came up in one of my interviews at the ACPA Annual Convention in Boston last month!
@CindyKane coined the phrase, “Lurking is Learning” and it couldn’t be truer in my job search. Twitter allows me to follow users with interesting content, regardless of their interest in the information I am sharing. This perspective has allowed me to gain the insight of industry leaders, potential and current colleagues, and universities. I’ve been able to see how other professionals are (and aren’t) engaged in social media, NASPA, ACPA, and in other aspects of their professional development. I followed several potential supervisors, colleagues, and institutions to gain better insight into institutional fit.
Some departments or colleges weren’t represented on Twitter at all, others had stagnant accounts, while some were using the tool like I was to brand themselves and their work. The active accounts provided the best perspective into university events and culture, but the inactive or nonexistent accounts spoke loudly too. I didn’t want to walk into a position that required me to manage a well-oiled machine, but rather a position that allowed me to grow—and with a staff that would support change. Universities and professionals actively engaging in social media were a great indicator of this progressive mindset, and these positions were the ones I targeted.
I engaged in Twitter and with colleagues before I was on the market for a job. Building trust and relationships with a community of professionals was not a means to an end, but rather a genuine attempt to grow professionally. I listened to conversations before I jumped in with my own opinions. It was important to get to know my colleagues before asking them to know and value me too. As with any new relationship, listen more than you speak. We have two ears and one mouth for a reason.
Have you found a job or opportunity using Twitter or other Social Media?
Becca Fick is a Graduate Assistant in Greek Life and Leadership and will soon have her MEd in Higher Education Administration and Student Personnel from Kent State University. After graduation, she will be the new Assistant Director of Student Involvement and Leadership at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. UPDATE: As of July 2012, Becca is at Ohio Dominican University in Columbus, OH as the Assistant Director for the Center for Student Involvement. You can connect with Becca on Twitter (
@BeccaFick ) (@OberBecca) and http://beccafick.wordpress.com/. (http://beccaobergefell.com/)