The caps and gowns have been put away for another year. We are now into the back half of summer, which means that thousands of university leavers up and down the country are adding the finishing touches to their CVs and applying to internships. Social media is fast becoming a popular avenue for graduate recruitment, with opportunities springing up in areas as diverse as high street retail and finance – shopping mogul Mary Portas and investment bank Deloitte both recently advertised graduate positions to manage social media brand pages via Twitter.
If you are a large company with a blog, Facebook page or Twitter account, then it makes a certain amount of sense to hand responsibility for these platforms over to somebody with a strong knowledge of how to use them. But before you go giving the keys to the kingdom away, it is important to know for certain that your intern makes the grade.
Intern opportunity for digitally savvy business grads with great writing skills to work on
@maryportas brand. Email
— Mary Portas (@maryportas) June 29, 2012
Pros: They are socially savvy and highly flexible
Broadly speaking, your average graduate will have more than a passing familiarity with Facebook, Twitter and WordPress, not to mention visual outliers like Pinterest and Instagram. Additionally, these young people have spent the last three years writing essays to strict deadlines – increasing the likelihood of you hiring an articulate communicator who can create compelling regular content for your website and blog. Plus, a graduate will be more open to learning new skills and adapting to new business areas than somebody who has been in the same role for a long period of time.
Cons: They have minimal experience and business knowledge to manage social media
In much the same way that elderly relatives believe without prompting that their nieces, nephews and grandchildren are all “good with computers”, there is a general assumption that every twenty-something is a social media whizz. But there is a vast difference between having a Facebook profile of one’s own, and knowing how to optimise that platform for business use. The same goes for tweeting and blogging; you and the person you hire may have very different ideas about what is appropriate and informative to your customers.
Also, while graduates may have a strong theoretical knowledge, social media for business tends to include a number of factors that can really only be found in on-the-job training, including brand management, customer service, PR and marketing. Bringing in an intern will mean extensive coaching to build their product knowledge and confidence.
Striking the right balance
If yours is a creative business, then hiring an intern full of energy and excitingideas will definitely help nail the tone to manage social media presence. However, if your company is of a more corporate nature, then there may be some reining in required. But don’t be put off – we might still be in the middle of a recession, but one of the surest ways to strengthen your business and encourage growth is to invest in fresh new talent.