Brodeur Partners hosts a team of student interns every summer. This year, we asked two of them to weigh in on growing up in the digital age and how it prepared them for a dose of the working world. This is the second of the two blogs, from Meredith Surette, a student at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.
Meredith Surette, August 2016
When you’re a millennial in the digital age, people expect you to know digital platforms and social media inside and out, and to grasp technology concepts quickly. Having grown up in the digital world, you tend to agree that you should excel at social media down to the last hashtag, bit and byte—even if you’re a humanities student.
Then you enter the world of professional communications for the first time and find out that there’s a big difference between using social media as a consumer and trying to derive tangible business value from them. Familiarity is a great start, but it can only take you so far.
Before interning at Brodeur Partners, I only used social media to be social, not to analyze data, facts and demographics. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram are as much about staying relevant in the business community as they are about my social life.
Instead of using social media to communicate, I’m responsible for pulling and analyzing data using new (to me) professional-grade information gathering tools like Radian 6 and Meltwater. Data analysis is a facet of social media that I guess knew existed, but had never spent much time considering until I started doing it.
It’s definitely been tough learning how to speak on social sites in clients’ voices, and it can still feel pretty foreign. I also find myself so caught up in trying to understand the language of interpreting data that I lose sight of how to use the data analysis tools. While I’m getting used to it now, it’s an obstacle that I really wasn’t expecting when I started here this summer.
Even so, my millennial chops have come in handy. Since I was already familiar with social platforms and technology in general, making educated guesses about how to approach new tasks came more easily than I initially thought it would.
So a word of advice to my fellow millennials who are considering a career in communications and for the people who might be hiring you. Growing up with social media gives us millennials a great head start in working with it. We have a basic comfort level navigating platforms and applications that previous generations had to learn. Still, the back end of social media – data and analytics – are as new to us as they are to everyone else. We’ll need some time to adjust. But not as much as everyone else!
Learn more about our internship program.