Three social media lessons every high school student should learn
By Maddie Major, college senior and TSI intern
When I was younger, I always thought social media was only for fun and games.
Then, college happened, and social media became far more than just a way to socialize with classmates and keep in touch with family and friends. Honestly, I didn’t realize the degree to which social media connects to every aspect of daily life until the real world came knocking.
- Networking events.
- Internship opportunities.
- Career fairs.
- Volunteer efforts.
- Community initiatives.
Like many college seniors, I’ve spent a significant amount of time reflecting and reminiscing on all I’ve learned over the last four years. What am I most proud of? What will I miss the most? What do I wish I learned sooner?
Much of what I’m keenly aware of now, but wish I had known sooner, relates to social media and how it could have helped me even more. And so, here are three social media lessons every high school student should learn before stepping foot on a college campus.
Lesson 1: Be proactive and start early
It’s never too early to start building a professional online presence. One day, every junior in college wakes up and wonders how to start looking for jobs and internships. Proactively learning how to do it in high school not only saves time later but provides a substantial leg up in a competitive landscape.
I didn’t make my personal LinkedIn profile until my sophomore year in college, and even then, I only made it because my friends were starting to do it. Not only do I wish I created one sooner, I wish I learned how to utilize it best before it was time to start engaging with potential employers. Only 9% of high school students use it, which means that 91% of high school students miss a golden opportunity to set themselves up for the future.
Lesson 2: Utilize your college’s social media presence
When I first arrived on campus, I had no idea how to take advantage of my university’s social media accounts. Those accounts might not get much attention, but they are always promoting great resources such as career fairs, alumni networking events, or even introductory information sessions.
Most of the programs promoted by school social media accounts make for excellent talking points in interviews. For example, my school’s Instagram regularly promoted Handshake, a platform where companies post jobs directly with specific schools. Rather than applying for jobs straight through a company’s website, going through Handshake creates a direct line of communication to recruiters and alumni of your school. By simply following my school’s Instagram account, I attended additional recruiting events, learned about new companies, engaged in virtual coffee chats with recruiters, and landed several interviews.
Lesson 3: Network
Network, network, network! I can’t say it enough. And not just on LinkedIn, Handshake, or other professional networks, either. My roommate got a great internship by scrolling through Facebook. Her mom’s friend posted, “Is anyone looking for a finance job,” she replied, and next thing you know, she landed an internship.
Social media presents the opportunity to enhance offline experiences as well. Before attending a guest speaker talk, one of my good friends did five minutes of background research and thought of a follow-up question ahead of time. At the end of the presentation, he asked the question and, later that day, added him on LinkedIn and said thank you. Impressed by the preparedness and proactive approach, the speaker asked my friend if he wanted to set up an interview for his company.
Small, intentional actions make a big difference, and social media makes it easier than ever before to connect with others.
Conclusion: Embrace social media
Coming from high school, I was blindsided by all of these things.
It didn’t have to be that way. Not once did anyone sit down to teach me about all of the positive ways social media can spark future career interests. And while one of the reasons is that it’s simply new and unfamiliar, ignoring social media’s role in our everyday lives does a disservice to anyone preparing to step foot on a college campus.
College is all about opening doors, and social media provides every incoming student the ability to prop open doors they never knew existed. While I’m certainly grateful that it’s never too late to learn, I only wish I knew then what I know now.
About The Social Institute
The Social Institute partners with schools nationwide to empower students, parents, and educators to navigate social-emotional health, social media, and technology positively through comprehensive, gamified lessons that meet students on their level as well. We have partnered with forward-thinking institutions across the nation, including Ravenscroft School, Gaston Day School, Bryn Mawr, Gilman School, Woodward Academy, U.S. Olympic athletes, Duke Men’s Basketball, ESPN, and others. For more information, contact us.