When Carla Contreras applied for and was invited to be the next leader of the Social Meteors, she didn’t hesitate to say yes. A senior and a Business Major with a concentration in marketing, Carla would lead a team of students tasked with the job of coordinating their department’s social media presence.
“This year, our team members are responsible for the social media for the College of Professional Studies and the Schools of Business, Economics, , and Psychology as well as the the Latin@ Center for Academic Excellence.” said Carla. “We work together as a team, but the interns from each different department are responsible for keeping their department’s social media up to date.”
Origins of the Team
The social media team at the College of Professional Studies was created in 2015 to engage students in jobs that were both useful and relevant to their majors.
“Department Chairs, Coordinators and Assistants have a lot on their plates, and keeping up with, let alone expanding their social media platforms can be challenging. ” said Denise Vanden Bos, Project Director for the College of Professional Studies who helps to support Carla and the team. overall .. When we approached the department chairs with the idea of having students from their own departments work with them and the department staff to help with social media , they were very interested.”
Now in its second year, the team meets once a week. They discuss the schedules for the week, making plans for timely coverage on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
“After we publicize something, we make sure we also post a follow up photo of the event itself.” Said Carla. “The intern’s job is to attend the event, talk or club meeting and post a photo of the event to that department’s social media.”
Students are the Focus
Weekly team meetings are also a time for interns to brainstorm best practices and get advice from Carla or Denise, the team’s advisor. “I’m available outside of the meetings, as well.” said Carla. “If the interns need help, they can always depend on me.”
With students as their primary audience, the team also posts messages that might speak directly to what their over 1500 followers are going through. That could mean inspirational messages at mid-term and finals, congratulatory messages at graduation, and other news that would motivate and inspire them.
“Students have commented that following one of our sites helps them be aware of things like deadlines and school or community events,” said Carla. “Once they find out that our sites exist, they tend to follow immediately.”
“With social media, it’s easier to reach students,” said Carla. “Flyering and handouts don’t always reach everyone, but since students are already on social media they are more likely to tune into what we have to say.”
Learning about Leadership
Carla takes pride in the experience of being a team leader. “I’ve never worked in a leadership position before,” she said. “The experience has given me a lot of self-confidence, and I’ve become a better listener and better communicator. I know how important it is to let my team know where I’m coming from and my expectations.”
“I’m pretty much the umbrella of the team.” She said. “I coordinate and advise. I also try to be at all the events to support the interns.”
Carla’s goal was to finish school in four years, and she’ll meet that goal. “Before I leave I hope to start mentoring the next team leader, though, just as I was mentored by the person who led the team before me.”
The Value of Being Involved
Carla thinks all students, and especially anyone interested in working as a social media intern, should get involved with their department and the community.
“Anyone can run a social media page,” she said, “but it takes someone who is part of the community to build followers, because when someone is active and involved, people will see them and follow.”
“Social media is a really important communication and community-building tool,” she continued. “A lot of students come from out of the area and are really not connected to other students here or to this community. Social media helps students connect both to each other and to what’s going on. It builds community.”