From Classroom to Boardroom: How University Learnings Transfer to the Workplace

No matter your education level or how long you’ve been out of school, I’m sure at some point in life you’ve wondered, “What did I learn in school that actually helped me in my job?” Sure, you know how to read and write (that tends to be a bare necessity for the workforce) and you pick up all sorts of knowledge about world history, chemical equations, and where to put a comma, but have you ever stopped to think about what you brought with you from school into the workplace?

For many of us, the answer is no. As a Communication student, I didn’t think I had many practical skills to bring into the workplace. But now, as a Social Media Manager, I realize that’s not the case. There are skills that have definitely risen to the surface as ones I’ve developed in the classroom and brought to work.

Writing

From the time you become a Communication major to the time you finish your degree, you’re writing. It starts with a mere 8-page paper that turns into a 10-page paper and grows up to become a monstrous 30-page project or creative assignment. In Communication, my writing was all theory-based, and while writing about the political economy of Facebook (yup, that was actually a paper) may not have helped all that much in any of my jobs, I learned how to make the sometimes-boring theoretical content more captivating just by the way I wrote it. Social media might be a lot more exciting to begin with, but it’s still not easy to write copy for, especially when you have to think of different copy for each social media platform. Being able to write and rewrite has been incredibly helpful when it comes to my job.

Working Collaboratively

Group projects: also known as the bane of any student’s existence. They get a bad rap, but if I’m being honest, group projects have allowed me to work with some interesting characters and have prepared me for people I might encounter in the workplace. When a group project rears its ugly head there’s a collective groan around the room, and while it may be torture for the semester, it spits you out on the other side as a more polite and collaborative person (even if you don’t quite feel polite on the inside). All this turmoil prepares you better for interactions at the office.

Time Management and Scheduling

When you have 4 or 5 courses on the go, each with their own deadlines, topics, and challenges, you have to learn how to manage your time. As a Social Media Manager, this is key. Getting on top of posts by making a social content calendar, scheduling posts where possible, and using tools to help with social media (link to other post) are all keys to making sure you don’t break up your day with posting on social, so instead you can focus on other things.

Critical Thinking

While some of the content from my university courses didn’t give me knowledge that directly helped me in the workplace, I did take a course that helped me to critically evaluate advertisements. It was incredibly theoretical, but it helped me to recognize the subtle nuances in ads that lead the viewer to retain the information or idea that they do. Now, when I work on marketing campaigns, I am better able to see things from the eye of the viewer and anticipate how one might react.

Looking back on my education, I realize I’ve learned plenty of theories and lofty concepts, and I figured I would never be able to put them to use. Since entering the workplace, I’ve come to realize that the theories I learned about in class could be translated into practical skills. My university learnings have given me the knowledge and skills I need to be able to market a product well. To me, that’s more valuable than anything I could ever learn about the political economy of Facebook (or whatever else I’ll write my next paper about 😉 ).

3 Free Tools Every Social Media Manager Needs

We love social media (we really do!). But because we do so much with social media, we realize it takes a lot of time and planning to run your accounts flawlessly. From curating content to designing graphics for posts, there is no shortage of work for a Social Media Manager (like me!). There’s also no shortage of digital tools that claim to make a Social Media Manager’s life easier. With so many different options, it can be tough to know what’s the best. I’ve used my fair share of online tools to help me in my job and from putting countless platforms to the test, I’ve found three I can’t live without.

1. Trello

Trello is like sticky notes on crack. If you love to visualize projects and timelines, Trello is the tool for you. Whether you set it up it like a KanBan board (like I do) or use it to organize campaigns across different social channels, Trello can help you collaborate with your team (yup, you can have multiple people on a single board) to classify content and make it an easier process to create, edit, and approve.

For me, Trello helps me track the tasks I have to do, what tasks are in progress and which are blocked. I also have a column for “today,” where I can move the cards I’ll (hopefully!) complete that day. Trello is super flexible and the possibilities are endless, so you can easily find what works best for you and your team.

2. TweetDeck

If you’re monitoring multiple Twitter accounts for your company, TweetDeck is the tool for you. When I first looked at TweetDeck I saw it as a flurry of activity I needed to monitor and I’m not going to lie, it freaked me out a bit. But once you get the hang of TweetDeck, you’ll come to love its nonstop, ever-changing craziness. TweetDeck allows you to add columns like your home feed, mentions, and messages so that you can see all the activity that’s going on across all your accounts simultaneously – that’s right, no more logging in and out of accounts constantly. My favorite part is that it lets you schedule Tweets to go out at a later date or time – no need to get up to Tweet early in the morning! 😉

3. Canva

There’s no doubt that social media requires designing content. If you’re like me, you won’t want to bother your designer for a measly Instagram image announcing what event you’ll be attending on the weekend when he has much more important things to work on; you’ll try to make a killer graphic yourself. Though I’m ashamed to admit it, there was once a time many moons ago where I would try anything to make a decent-looking graphic quickly, including trying to maneuver images and text over one another in Microsoft Word to create something that vaguely resembled a poster or an Instagram image. With Canva, that struggle is no longer. From Instagram stories to Facebook posts, Canva has it all. You can choose a template to customize or create your own from scratch. I use Canva to create event announcements, Instagram story graphics, and other visuals for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. It’s simple to use but it can look like you hired a professional designer to create a campaign for you. The best part is, it’s free!

Of course, digital tools aren’t what’s going to make or break your career – only your skills and knowledge can help you grow into the professional you want to be. That said, my job would be a lot more difficult without having some tools to help me along. Trello, TweetDeck, and Canva make my life easier, my tasks more manageable, and my content look much better.