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Professionals: social media can lead to jobs, be a job

‘Future-proofing’ is a social media must

Byron Center— There are a few things to consider before hitting “post” on Instagram, TikTok or other social media platforms.

And those things can impact your job and career goals.

That was the message from Taylor Dustin, a full-time social media influencer and content creator who recently presented on the do’s and don’ts of social media to a Byron Center High School senior English class.

“When you are interviewing for jobs, the first thing people do is look you up on social media,” said Dustin, known as The Wandering Michigander on TikTok.

Dustin, who recently left a job working for a large company, and Chelsie Wyse,  owner of Tac(t), a marketing strategy & content development agency, talked to students recently about how to use social media to impact their lives positively. They focused especially on how content is viewed professionally and in hiring.

‘When you are interviewing for jobs, the first thing people do is look you up on social media.’

– social media influencer Taylor Dustin

There are college degrees and jobs in social media. Companies use it for all sorts of reasons: to sell things, to share news and messages. “It all revolves around social media these days,” Dustin said.

Byron Center English teachers Linda Baas, Erinn Caley and Erin Bastic invited the social media experts – coordinated through Kent ISD Career Readiness – to speak as part of a modern communications unit that also includes mock interviews and making resumes. 

The class is designed to prepare students for moving on to college or the workforce, Baas said. “For that next step, what English-related skills do they need?”

Inarguably, social media skills fall into that category.

“There’s this whole social media side to our lives and how that possibly impacts the professional side of our lives,” Baas said. “Oftentimes, our students don’t consider that, and they react and post without thinking about what the future implications of that could be.”

Opportunities Abound if You Avoid Pitfalls

Wyse does a lot of hiring at her boutique advertising agency, and knows the skills young people bring to the table when it comes to digital platforms. They can use those skills to build their portfolios and demonstrate how well-rounded they are in using different platforms, she said during a conversation after the event. 

But “future-proofing” is important. People need to think about whether they will be proud of something they post in 15 years or if it could negatively impact them as they pursue career goals, she said

Wyse said it’s also important that students remember – in our emotionally charged world – that social media interactions lack the nuance of face-to-face conversation. “We need to remember that they are human beings on the other side,” she said.

By far and large, it’s in their power to control how social media affects their lives, Wyse said.

“Like Spiderman said, ‘With great power comes great responsibility.’”

Dustin said red flags for employers include bad-mouthing previous employers, concerns about lifestyle, discriminatory comments, use of drugs and alcohol especially for underage candidates, racy and inappropriate photos, lies about qualifications and political posts.

Byron Center High School English students consider how social media impacts their lives

Keep It Clean

For others hoping to monetize their posts, Dustin said consider what you want to be known for. She found a niche in traveling in Michigan and posting about her experiences and created a job through partnerships with tourism organizations in Michigan. Her presence quickly grew on TikTok, leading her to pursue her idea full time. 

“I wanted to get paid to travel to do what I love,” she said.

Students said the information got them thinking.

“People are going to judge how you look. If you walk into school and dress raggedy, they will think you are raggedy; if you post bad stuff they are going to think you are a little bit more bad,” said senior Evie Schaidt. “A lot of this is common sense, but it made me think about it a little bit more.”

Added senior Taylor Nitz, “As someone who wants to go into entertainment, it’s really important for me to have a good social media following… I know there are a lot of kids in this school who want to do college sports or entertainment, so it’s really important. They want to make sure their social media is really clean.”

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio

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