At the start of the academic year, myself and the Sabbatical Team met up to discuss what campaigns we felt would benefit current students at UoC for the upcoming year. Fortunately, with having been re-elected for my second term as Vice President Warrington, I was able to reflect on my first year and chose to run a campaign around online professionalism, safety on Social Media and how to best utilise online communication tools to enhance your employability, hence the hashtag #SocialMEdia.
The reasons behind choosing #SocialMEdia as the campaign I ran was surrounding the amount of professional suitability panels I’ve previously sat on, with a high proportion of panels regarding nursing and social work courses, and their use of inappropriate behaviour on social media. Therefore, wanting to raise awareness of the detrimental effects of social media and the impact it can have on your course, resulting in a shift in attitudes towards how students present themselves online.
My campaign ran from 13th November to 17th November and I managed to get around the majority of the campuses across Chester sites and Warrington campus. On the Monday I started on my ‘home turf’ over in Warrington, going around with Cat Radio, interviewing eight students for The VP Show on Friday afternoon, with voxpops. We asked them a variety of questions such as; How can you use social media positively? How can social media be dangerous? And asking them whether they had any positive/negative social media stories to share, in which I got in abundance across the first day. On the second day, I went around the Parkgate Road campus wearing a sandwich board with the posters reading: ‘What would your mum think?’ & ‘What would your employer think?’ and asking students the same questions we asked on the Monday. Again, this created some helpful and informative chats amongst the students we talked to, but also opened their eyes to the reality of the usefulness and risks of the use of their own social media, for example informing them that nearly 78% of employers in today’s job searching market employ via social media platforms such as LinkedIn.
On Thursday we attended Riverside campus, with a large demographic of students on professional courses based there therefore one of my targets for my campaign. Again, we talked to the around 40 students about their social media, and learnt that the majority of them did in fact have their profiles private, or were intending to when they began placement. However, it was good to discuss the matter with them as it was interesting to see how many appreciated the risks of social media on their courses. However, even though we talked to a handful of students who were very self-aware, it was good to raise awareness on that campus. After Riverside, we went over to Queens Park and continued to hold discussions with students who were studying business related courses. Courses that heavily rely on social media within their job, therefore it was a useful insight into how best they can utilise their social media for future careers.
Across the week, we spoke to well over 200 students from first year to masters and PhD level, to gain an inside knowledge as to how students value themselves on their own social media, whether that be their personal accounts or accounts they have created for their courses. Furthermore, the message delivered from the Students’ Union was clear that week – Social Media is awesome! It can help you get a job and keep you connected with the world, however, there is always a risk, and you must always be in control of the risk, ensuring you are the only one who manages it. However, social media can improve and enhance your employability, something I shall continue to on, alongside the Careers & Employability department.
Thank you to everyone who helped out through the week and contributed towards a successful campaign, and to all those students who took the time to speak with us to give us a better understanding of the viewpoints of students.
keep an eye out through the year for future campaigns being run by your SU for you!