When people find out I went to grad school, they frequently want to know what my master’s thesis was about. Nine times out of ten, people seem confused when I tell them that I explored how higher education professionals use Twitter as a professional development tool. Twitter? For professional development?
Many people still view Twitter as a waste of time – a platform full of celebrity gossip and photos of cats. Up until two years ago when I started using and researching Twitter, I too was a skeptic. Since adopting Twitter use and completing my research on the topic, I’ve come to learn a great deal about how Twitter can be used professionally to learn more about a particular career path or industry, network with professionals in the field that you’re interested in, and to look for jobs and internships. It’s a well-known fact that employers are Googling you when you apply for a job/internship, so why not use Twitter as a way to stand out from the crowd?
There are a few simple steps you can take to help you accomplish the aforementioned and jump-start your job/internship search or professional development. Once you have a Twitter account set up (complete with an awesome bio & photo):
- Start following people. Look for people who currently do the work you aspire to do one day or businesses that you think you might want to work for. You can do this by searching for key words related to a field (e.g.: “PR professional”) or you can search for a specific hashtag (e.g.: #highered, #accounting, etc. ). When you’re first adjusting to the bizarre world of 140 characters and hashtags, it can be really beneficial to just observe for a while. Think of this feed of information as an interactive RSS feedback. Use this feed as a tool to learn more about a particular industry and possible job openings. While you’re at it, be sure to follow Career Services’ Twitter account because we post a new internship posting every Tuesday and a job posting every Thursday!
- Share relevant articles, blogs, etc. If you’re interested in going into business marketing when you graduate, why not share that interesting article your professor made you read? Sure you only read it because it was your assignment, but no one else needs to know that. Sharing that article with the marketing community on Twitter shows that you’re keeping up with the latest trends in the field and with time can establish you as an “expert” in your field. People are more likely to follow you if you’re posting relevant content.
- Join the conversation. Once you’ve established a network of people, businesses, and news sources, join in on conversations that are going on about your area of interest. Unlike Facebook, it’s very common to interact with people who you may not know personally. It might seem strange at first, but Twitter is a very open community where people can freely ask questions and share information with one another. Establishing relationships with other professionals will expand your network, and you never know when those connections might come in handy!
Though not a comprehensive list of ways to get involved professionally in the Twitter community, these three steps will get you started. Good luck!