I’m pretty sure I never imagined I’d find myself working in marketing or social media. In fact, social media didn’t exist when I was growing up, and the closest I could get to marketing at my undergrad institution was probably a degree in business or economics. Neither of these fields appealed to me enough to justify an entire degree.
So how did I end up here? Via a long, meandering path, one could say.
For as long as I can remember I’ve enjoyed languages: not only learning them, but also analyzing their structures and figuring out their rules. I later discovered that people actually did this kind of research – i.e. linguistics – for a living, and that I could learn to do so too. It was only natural that I chose linguistics as my major in college, along with psychology, which I thought would make a good combination.
By the end of my first year in college, it was already clear to me that I wanted to continue to graduate studies. My linguistics classes were interesting and fun, and I wasn’t half bad at them either. Ten years down the line I could see myself as a professor at some quaint liberal arts college, living the “life of the mind” and enjoying the security and respect that come with it.
Unsurprisingly, graduate school was more of a challenge. While I still took pleasure in my studies and found that I especially liked teaching, I also discovered some of the less glamorous aspects of the academic world. I was particularly dismayed to see how many of my peers struggled to find a decent job in the field and had to sacrifice so much in the process: where they could live, their hobbies and non-academic interests, and even their relationships.
Disappointed by the lackluster results of my own job search, I began looking for opportunities outside academia as I was completing my dissertation. One thing that worked in my favor was the non-academic experience and skills I had acquired before and during my graduate studies. I knew a number of languages, had worked part-time jobs in translation and editing, and had written pieces for a student-run publication.
Thanks to these bullet points on my resume, I landed my first job as a writer and editor at a Washington DC-based political lobby. Here I not only gained further experience in creating content and putting together publications as part of a marketing and creative services team, but also had my first chance to manage social media accounts for a large organization. This naturally led to a position as director of communications for a small website devoted to government transparency. Working at this sort of startup allowed me to initiate a variety of communications projects, such as creating video content, and to hone my social media skills.
For the past year I’ve worked as a social media marketing specialist at Rosetta Stone, where I get to combine the distinct pieces of my professional life: language, writing, research, and social media. As a member of the digital marketing team, I manage the company’s social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, which includes everything from researching and writing social media posts to running contests and sweepstakes.
I’m also responsible for advertising on these social media channels. In this capacity, I manage large budgets geared toward generating email signups, mobile app installs, and product sales. Learning the technical details of online advertising as well as the broad principles and strategies behind it – a process that I’m still in the midst of – has been one of the highlights of my job. I hope you’ll learn a bit about it as well over the course of the coming week.