Tag Archives: graduate school

Helpful Lessons I Still Use From My Social Media Degree

This post was originally published on BlogHer on March 19, 2015

I’ve been asked if it was worth getting my social media degree. On one hand, in four short years, most things I learned aren’t applicable today. The social media landscape changes too quickly. But there are overarching lessons that inform how I approach my blog or other social media accounts.

Here are 6 lessons I still use daily when it comes to social media.

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Social Media is Always Changing

It moves fast. It changes even faster. What was trending one day as the latest marketing tool, won’t be around the next day. Which means, there is always something new to discover and always something new to learn.

My degree may be four years old and I may have graduated, but I haven’t stopped learning the ins and outs of what’s new in the social media marketing world. Knowing that helps me keep perspective.

You Have the Freedom to Try New Things

No, my degree didn’t give me the freedom to try skydiving (wouldn’t that make for an incredible Instagram post…), but it did provide me with a new outlet to think outside the box. Traditional marketing is all about advertisements, commercials, and so on, all of which are expensive.

Social media allows users to see what works for their companies without spending a lot of marketing dollars. The possibilities with social media marketing are endless. What works for one brand, may not work another. And that’s okay. Trial and error is the name of the game in social media until you find something that works.

It keeps me creative in the workplace.

Connect With Like-Minded People

Believe it or not, there are people out there that don’t care to talk about Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and so on all day. They don’t care about the latest trends, and they don’t care about what new marketing scheme you came up with.

By connecting with others who love social media marketing the way you do, it provides you with a group of people who can be a sounding board for ideas. And that same group of people may also be the group who provides you with ideas you hadn’t even thought of.

Knowing how important it is to find your “tribe” workwise also translates into my daily blogging approach.

Knowledge Makes You an “Expert”

I put that loosely only because it seems like you could throw a rock and hit at least 15experts in social media marketing. Sometimes they are people who have learned much of what they know on their own, by reading, experimenting and the like. Other times, they learned about social media in the classroom.

Does one or the other make you any more of an expert? No. What makes you an expert is gathering the knowledge that will help you market your brand properly on social media.

Someday, that social media degree will be just as common as an English degree. So, yes, a social media degree is useful because it sets you apart as an expert in the field. That is, as long as you keep learning.

Everyone Needs to Work for Followers

As much as I had hoped graduating with a social media degree would mean that I would suddenly have thousands of people who would listen to me on Twitter, it didn’t happen, nor will it happen. But what I did discover were the proper tools and etiquette for building a following.

Thank those who do follow you and follow back. Share their work. Repost their pictures. It takes time and effort, but you will see you social media grow. And the hard work will pay off.

Social Media Is Sticking Around

If the growth of some the platforms out there like Instagram and Twitter are any indication about the direction social media is going, I think it’s safe to say that social media is a pretty solid focus for both undergraduate and graduate programs. It’s a growing field, and as the years go on, the need for social media experts will only increase.

My degree is so much more to me than learning the ins and outs of Facebook. If you love social media, and find yourself on it 24/7, and are interested in analytics, tools, and everything else that goes into marketing, this may be the degree for you.

My classes in social media were, by far, the hardest classes I took. But because I was interested in social media marketing, I loved them and excelled in them. And if you feel as strongly about social media marketing as I do, then you should definitely pursue it!

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Why I Chose Online Graduate School

As I drove to work a couple of mornings ago, the radio station I listen to daily was discussing with a listener about online degree programs. As I listened to their conversation (the mother was discussing how her daughter wanted to leave college because there was too much partying and she was considering an online degree), I couldn’t believe what the words that came out of the DJ’s mouth. The DJ uttered the words, “Online degree programs are a joke and a waste of money.”

I’m a longtime listener of this particular station, and I immediately turned it off. It takes quite a bit to offend me. But this hit a nerve. Why? Because I chose an online graduate program for my Master’s Degree. And for me, it was the best decision I had ever made.

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As a freshman in college, I knew I wanted to go to graduate school. Not because I needed too. But because I wanted too. I planned to finish my undergraduate degree, take a year off and start my journalism career, and then begin a Master’s program in the field of Journalism.

Fast forward to 2009.

After learning that print journalism may not be the best career choice, or one that would be around for much longer, it was time to look at my options. What could I do for a career that could incorporate my love for writing and creativity, into a job that would be useful? I landed on Marketing. A major that would open me to up to numerous career choices, companies and industries. I knew I couldn’t afford to attend a school in Boston, or closer to the city, even though it was my dream to go to Emerson. I also knew commuting all the time for classes wasn’t going to feasible and I would be pretty likely to call my program quits if that was my only option. I needed to work AND focus on school. As I searched, I discovered Southern New Hampshire University. They were close enough that I could get to campus if I needed too, but my classes would be solely online. Exactly what I was looking for.

Why did I choose to go with an online graduate school when I was only 40 minutes outside of Boston? Here’s why.

Convenience

I didn’t want to live by a schedule, other than my work schedule. I didn’t want to have to commute. I didn’t want the hassle of a classroom setting again. I wanted to be able to get up in the morning, log in to my courses, and begin my work for the week, from the comfort of my home. Or be able to do some of my discussions during my lunch break.

Cost

Graduate school is expensive. And since I was paying for it on my own, I didn’t want to go someplace where I wouldn’t be able to pay my loans back. I wanted a good ROI. Southern New Hampshire University fit that bill (no pun intended).

Real-Life Experience

As many of you know, a lot of your undergraduate coursework is a lot of classes you just don’t care about with information that you’re just not ever going to worry about again. At least until you get deep into your major’s classes.

I wanted a graduate school experience where I was in charge of my own learning. I wanted a school where my classes weren’t just about teaching the material, but rather applying it to real situations. Much of my coursework involved creating Marketing Plans for Mock Companies, Social Media Platforms, Contracts and so forth. I even had the opportunity to create my own company and all of the marketing that would be involved, as well as my own sports team.

These exercises not only prepared me for a future career, my assisted me with my own goals of a creating and running a business.  And much of it I got to use, while I was taking my classes, at my real-life careers. Not internships. CAREERS. Yep, I was creating marketing plans before I even had my Master’s degree completed.

Discipline

Going to school online taught me a lot about time management and discipline, even more so than my undergrad. It prepared me for ‘adulthood’ and managing a work/life balance. I had to make time for my classes, and make sure I was checking in throughout the week. No one was going to make me do it. No one was going to check in with me. It was all on my shoulders. If I didn’t do it, the only one who would suffer would be me.

Learning On My Terms

You’re probably reading this thinking “Yeah, well you can get that even at a school with in person classes.” Yep. You can. The difference? Each class is different and they run three days a week (depending on the school and major of course). My classes began on Sundays and ran through Saturdays. Each week was a new module, or theme, and we had readings and assignments for the whole week. Discussions? Oh, we had them. And boy could they be intense. How you ask? Discussion boards.

“But that’s not very personal. You don’t get a feel for your classroom and your classmates.”

Sure you do. Each of my professors had their own teaching style, even online, and you learned your classmates nuances. Even over the computer. Believe it or not, I still keep in touch with friends from my courses, who for the record, were all over the country and world.

If I wasn’t going to be around for the weekend, I made sure to get all of my work done with plenty of time. My posts in the forums happened at the beginning of the week instead of spread throughout the week. If I didn’t feel like studying on a particular day, I didn’t have too. Purely because I didn’t have to be at class the next day.

I was responsible for every bit of knowledge I acquired. If I didn’t do the readings, or the discussions, I wasn’t going to succeed. Just like if you were to go to class. You go to class, listen to the lectures, take notes, do the readings and assignments, and then go back to class. My difference was my classroom, was at home in my bedroom, or on my screened in porch, or on the beach. I could learn from anywhere.

In fact, here is a video I had to create for one of my online classes my final year of graduate school. I was asked to use it as a tool to recruit other potential online students as well.

Still not convinced about online programs? That’s fine. This post wasn’t meant to convince you. It was simply to show you why it was the best option for me.  And for all those online-program haters out there? It’s not a joke. I have a Master’s Degree in Marketing with a Social Media Marketing Graduate Certificate. I have a fantastic career where I utilize my knowledge daily.

And Southern New Hampshire University?

Yep, they’re getting coverage all over the country now for their cutting edge and affordable online programs. The amount of people I’ve met in recent years who have told me they did their program online at SNHU is amazing.

Do I wish I had been able to go to a large school in Boston for my Masters? Of course. And I easily could have.

Do I regret choosing an online program? Absolutely not. At the time, it was what was best for me. And I am now a huge supporter and encourager of online programs.

So I ask you: Have you ever taken courses online? Have you considered furthering your education online? If you already have, what was your experience like?

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Welcome to A Glimpse Into Eryn’s World – The First Post

Welcome to a glimpse into my world.

Bear with me as I learn how to use WordPress and make this blog look fresh and fun… it might take me sometime.

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For those reading, here’s a little background on me.

I graduated with my BA in Communications in ’08 where I was one of the last classes to learn print journalism. As you all know, print journalism is on the outs. I managed to wrangle a job at a publishing company where I had been a temp. That quickly ended as I realized the day in and day out of the same task just wasn’t for me. I left and began working back at the riding stable where I grew up while I looked for something new. I ended up working part-time at a liquor store as a Front End Manager learning as much as I possibly could about wines, beers and liquors for a year while I floundered around, got the last of my partying out of the way and realized I needed to find a real career. After another odd job of working at a gym, I landed a job at an up and coming company as a receptionist where I was quickly thrown into learning numerous different things, including marketing.

This is when I realized that marketing would be a good fit for me. It was the perfect blend of logic and creativity that I was looking for and was not a ‘desk job’ so to speak. I did my research, found a good graduate school program (one that did not require the GREs) and applied. Before I knew it, I was going to be starting my MS in Marketing in September of 2009. I had always said I would take a year off before starting school and I did exactly that.

Not long after enrolling, I was laid off. I floundered again, went back to working at my barn part-time and landed a gig as a Marketing and Office Assistant for a local limousine company. I was put in charge of the social media campaign and their newsletter. While there, I took advantage and learned as much as possible again. Working part-time was wonderful and allowed me to be able to spend a solid year focusing on school.

In August ’10, I learned I would be going back to the previous company, but this time as a Marketing and Office Assistant. I would still work the front desk, but would now have the ability to do some marketing and learn those ropes too. I’ve been back for almost a year (September 20th) and this past year has flown by. Not only was I working full-time, but I was still in school full-time. I should have mentioned that I did my ENTIRE program online. Extreme flexibility.

But now, I will officially be done with my Masters as of August 27th, 2011. The degree will be in my possession as of September 15th. And hopefully, my Marketing career will then take off. With school ending, I’m finding myself constantly wondering where my life will take me. Several people have asked me if I will go on to get my PhD. (The answer is no). The only thing that truly matter to me is that I did it. And I am just about done…

This blog will detail my life after graduate school. A time in my life where I suddenly find I have free time again and have the ability to explore my passions, without the stress of getting homework done hanging over my head.

Enjoy!

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