Seeking: Experts in Social Media

Ask the Expert guest speaks on the future of communications careers.

Right now you’re probably thinking about Twitter, or Tumblr, or maybe even Facebook. A lot of students, especially high school students, are either always on it or have it on their minds.

What you probably didn’t know is that all this social media can be a big asset when it comes to your future career, and considering that you and thousands of other high school students are always on it, it could even be one of your best advantages towards your future.

Beth Noonkester sees herself as part communications manager, part educator since she teaches other people at her company, both new and veteran workers, about the ways they can use social media to the company’s advantage.

When NoonKester, the Communications Manager at Baxter International, came in for Ask The Expert Day on February 5, she told students that for three out of her five years at Baxter International she has been the social media strategist that focuses on bringing out the Baxter image. So she works with Twitter, a Leyden favorite, along with YouTube and LinkedIn to make the company heard.

Baxter is an international healthcare company that is located in over 100 countries, and focuses mainly on products that can help sustain a person’s life.

Noonkester says that even though Baxter has offices all over the world, she hasn’t gotten the chance to travel anywhere yet and has stayed at the headquarters in Deerfield, Illinois.

Social media and a healthcare company do not seem like a probable mix, but Noonkester makes it work.

But like everything, there are the pros and cons. As part of a healthcare company, Noonkester has to make sure that everything she puts out is legal. The FDA provides plenty of restrictions that the company has to recognize.

Since Baxter is located in over 100 countries, this means that every country has different laws and somehow Noonkester has to make this work. The Baxter YouTube channel is meant for American viewers only which is why in big writing on their main YouTube page, you would see “Intended for U.S. Audiences only” written practically everywhere.

Baxter International isn’t the only company taking advantage of social media to become close to their customers. You could be managing the Chipotle Facebook, the famous Taco Bell Twitter that really speaks to their followers, and even Starbucks, one of the largest coffee companies out there.

Of course, just knowing how to put thoughts into 140 characters on Twitter isn’t enough. Like any other professional job out there, a degree is needed. Noonkester got a shot at her job by getting an undergraduate in business, and getting her graduate in creative writing. Even though these two don’t seem to mix, they have served her well within her role at Baxter.

Noonkester never envisioned herself doing this, saying she was only looking to get into a career that made her happy, and yet the only reason she got involved with Baxter’s social media presence was because she was one of the younger employees at Baxter and she jumped at the opportunity to get involved with their online presence.

A lot of companies are looking for people to fill positions within the company’s social media/communications department. These jobs seem perfect for younger people who have more experience with the variety of social media applications and tools available.

A simple search of “social media editor” into LinkedIn will pull up over 1,300 jobs and these jobs vary from big to small, local companies.

It’s not enough just to know how to use social media: you still need basic communication and writing skills, and it’s always going to look better to any company if you have a degree in either of those fields.

You can start making an impression on people now though.

Here at Leyden we always talk about our digital footprint, but Noonkester refers to it as a “brand.”

Your Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook profile is a person’s first perception of you, and your online profiles can either be a disadvantage or one of the best advantages you can have for future college admissions officers or employers.

Noonkester advises students to remember that “personal profiles should be smart and cleaned up, and even once you get a job it should stay that way.”