Making Connections: Social Media and Digital Marketing

The innovative nature of social media and digital marketing presents exciting new career paths along with challenges that are unraveling as fast as the industry is evolving. Businesses are relying on digital marketing experts to personalize messaging that leads to sales in a cost-effective and measurable way. Four JWU alumni reconnected on campus to speak with students from the College of Business and the College of Engineering & Design at a social media and digital marketing panel.

The panelists:

  • Jordan Schorr '18, independent contractor, Hasbro
  • Ryan Healy '12, senior digital strategist, Hill Holiday
  • Luann Edwards '02, global strategic marketing communications consultant, Socially Professional
  • Sierra Barter '09, social media manager, AAA Northeast

Sheri Young, Ed.D., dean of experiential education & career services, served as moderator. She invited the panelists to share obstacles they have faced with new media in their careers.

“In this fast-paced industry, the challenge is proving the value of digital marketing to clients who may not believe in it,” said Healy. “Media is rapidly changing, so it’s important to roll with the punches.”

The panel discussed managing client expectations. Edwards explained one of the most common challenges is working with clients who are cautious of social media efforts. “Be sure to have a plan because clients might not understand how social media can work to their advantage,” she said. “People assume anyone can create and manage a social media account."

Demonstrate the value of social media by setting a strategy.

Barter reminded students to consider their own personal use of social media. “It has the potential to impact your life in a negative way if not used wisely,” she said. “It can work with you or against you. Social media acts like a billboard that anybody can see. Use good judgement and you’ll be successful.”

Dean Young prompted the panel to discuss important qualities to have when navigating this industry.

“Adapting to new environments, reliability, and dependability are key assets to have in this industry,” Schorr noted. “In addition to skills, employers look for your internships and experiences.”

“Stay flexible and curious,” Healy advised. “Employers are looking for candidates who are agile.”

JWU student group listening to the Digital Marketing alumni panel

Connections are Key

Unanimously, the panel agreed that one of the many factors that led them to finding their current career was connections. Barter reiterated, “This industry is really about who you know; networking can go a long way.”

For students looking to make connections and network, the alumni panelists strongly recommended they get to know their professors, join the JWU ADTEAM or other professional JWU clubs, set up a LinkedIn account, volunteer and secure an internship.

At the conclusion of the panel discussion, students in the audience were welcome to ask questions. One seated in the front row asked, “What advice would they give to their first-year selves?”

  • Schorr: “Change your major if you’re unhappy.”
  • Healy: “Join the ADTEAM, study abroad and focus on internships.”
  • Edwards: “Think bigger and challenge your goals.”
  • Barter: “You’re life after graduation isn’t always as you planned, and that’s OK.”

JWU students networking at a Career Fair on campus.

Following the panel, Experiential Education & Career Services brought dozens of employers to campus for a business career fair to meet with students and set up job and internship interviews.

Recognizing the need for skilled professionals in this industry, JWU Providence recently expanded its curriculum to include a bachelor’s degree in Digital Media and Social Media. Through classes and real-world projects, JWU students acquire skills in social media marketing, data collection and analysis, search engine marketing, screen design and content management, mobile advertising, and more. With these specialized skills, Johnson & Wales graduates gain a competitive advantage in the workplace.