Social media: A world of opportunity

Emily Bent

I am a planner.

 I like lists and schedules and knowing exactly what will happen next. If I had it my way, I’d know every turn I took in life down to the second. In my two years in the public relations program I’ve learnt that sometimes you have to be a little flexible – and creative. Some things can’t be foreseen. Like planning, I’ve always used social media but little did I know the world of opportunities it could offer. You might connect with a community who share your passions or potentially discover a career.

From grade 10 on, I had my life all figured out, down to each individual step. I was ecstatic the day I graduated high school in 2012 (step 1) with a letter of acceptance to Mount Saint Vincent University for public relations in my hand (step 2). My plan was working exceptionally well.

After arriving at MSVU, I realized the career path I had chosen wasn’t clear-cut as I’d imagined. The list I had created years ago only specified “step 3: get a career in PR”. Nowhere along the way did I realize “a career in pr” could mean one of a thousand paths.

I decided to follow what I know, agriculture. I come from a small town and a large family. All around me growing up were farms, animals and 4H. This was a sector I felt comfortable in and passionate about, but nowhere on the Introduction to public relations  syllabus did I see a section about agriculture.

I was suddenly disheartened and overwhelmed.

During Christmas break of that year, I came across an article by Avaleigh Eastman (now Schouten) in the 4H advantage magazine about the power of social media. Avaleigh was a graduate of the University of Ottawa with a social science degree in public administration and business. After hearing negative and ill-conceived opinions about cattle farming and crop production, she began tweeting about agriculture and her experiences of growing up on a dairy farm.

Her twitter page gathered a large following and attracted attention from professionals in the agriculture industry. No more than a month after starting, she received an email from human resources at Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC).  By simply tweeting informative articles and opinions, Avaleigh got the attention of a national organization and obtained a position in the government relations and communications department at DFC.

I was inspired.

Avaleigh made her (and my) passion a reality by doing something I do every day, tweeting. Today the internet is running the world and everyone can see what we do online. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogger and WordPress are at our fingertips waiting to be utilized to their full potential. Social media has more benefits than postings selfies or pinning a recipe you know you’ll never cook. As future PR professionals we need to get into the habit now of using it for all it’s worth. Why not start now? Be your own PR person and promote yourself to the world.

Though my passions and career ambitions have changed along with the passing of feeling overwhelmed, I’ve realized I can do more then pass classes and find co-op positions to achieve my dreams. Whether it is basketball, cooking, reality TV or agriculture, you are the sole person with the ability to let anything curb finding your dream job. Who knows, your next “step” in life could be one tweet, post or blog post away.