“Don’t post that.”
“Keep it private.”
“Employers look for stuff like that.”
Students are constantly warned: what you post online may affect your future. But for some, the content they share on social media accounts can open doors.
Take journalism and mass communications junior, Mallory Prater, for example. Her social media account landed her a dream internship.
Prater was working part-time at CityScape’s Urban Outfitters in downtown Phoenix, where she met the head of the company’s Arizona Instagram account.
A film photography connoisseur, Prater was subsequently asked to shoot for the account (@uoarizona). Now, she works with four other photographers to execute shoots with a weekly direction and trend.
Soon after starting, photos of her styles and the friends she roped into modeling became constant fixtures on the account. She was featured in an article at ASU’s on-campus newspaper in December 2015, which changed everything.
“I got a call from my store’s district manager saying that Sue Otto, the creative director of Urban Outfitters, had seen the article and my Instagram account and wanted to hire me,” Prater says.
Within a few weeks, Prater landed another dream gig — a competitive summer internship at the company’s headquarters in Philadelphia.
Over the summer, she worked as the women’s styling intern, helping stylists create looks to show products online. She assisted on shoots, organized and steamed garments and even styled a look completely on her own for the website.
“It was hard to contain how starstruck I was when I got to work with some of the models and other well-known creatives,” Prater says. “It was so rewarding seeing my work on the site.”
Social Media: Cat Pictures vs. Curated Content
Prater’s most recent photo on the national Urban Outfitters account garnered more than 123,600 likes, and more than 1,800 people follow her personal account (@mallory.prater).
While Prater understands why students in other professions opt for private accounts, she thinks social media is an important stepping-stone in her career goals.
“I try to think of my Instagram profile as more of a curated gallery of images than a way to update my followers on my day-to-day events,” says Prater. “I see my social media as a way to show possible employers my aesthetic and knowledge of the platforms.”
Prater still works on the Arizona Urban account and hopes to return to Philadelphia after graduation.
For people interested in a career in the fashion industry, she thinks social media is valuable tool.
“Social media is playing a huge part in making the fashion industry more accessible and relatable to the masses,” says Prater. “It makes some of the highest brands and names seem relatable and gives people so many opportunities to form connections in the industry.”
Social media is increasingly becoming a bigger focus for brands, serving as a conduit for finding talent and creating jobs.
Savanah Yaghsezian is also a junior at the Cronkite School of Journalism. She was recently hired to do social media for ASU Gammage.
Yaghsezian says working with social media takes a lot of planning, plus an understanding of trends and popular culture to relate to other users.
She believes there’s a big difference between a student’s personal and professional accounts, but thinks there are reasons to have both.
“You should be cautious about what you post, but I think you should be allowed to have your own opinions and show your personality online,” says Yaghsezian.
While she applied through the ASU job portal for her gig, she has heard of people being offered jobs at publications because of their interactions with the company’s social media accounts.
Does that mean every post on your Twitter or Facebook pages are going to get you a job?
Probably not, but it could be a stepping-stone in networking with other professionals, finding opportunities and practicing for a future career.
Prater maintains that your account is only useful if you design it that way.
“If you can make it reflect both who you are and who you’re working towards becoming, I think you’re set.”