While the football jocks were going to the career fairs where big-name consulting firms seduced them with stress balls and plastic cups, I spent my time attending guest lectures from Douglas Adams, Ted Turner and Peter Matthiessen.

Yes, I never traveled without my towel!

(Nerd joke, sorry)

Whenever someone asked, “What are you going to do after school?” I cracked a joke to avoid answering.

Part of me wanted never to leave the cocoon of academia. To stay here eternally. Education for education’s sake- rah rah rah. White wine and frisbee on the quad forever.

And then, before I knew it, I graduated and it was summer.

The parties ended.

My friends, who never had talked about their plans for life after college, disappeared down their own paths.

And I took the easiest path: to Japan with a girl, where I taught at a british international school. I never taught before in my life, and learned the hard way that I never want to again!

A year-and-a-half later, I found myself back on campus taking a skills assessment test and talking with a patient career counselor about my options.

Real life had come and left me wiser.

I’m so incredibly grateful to my career center for breaking the taboo against talking about jobs.

Most importantly, I ask myself, “What would have happened if social media were around and my career center used it to engage me before I graduated?”

The Thing You Hate Most Can Save the Most Lives!

At almost every school I speak at, career professionals grumble about social media. And that’s OK. I do to!

But imagine for a moment the power you now have, that you never had before, to influence the lives of your students.

I think my life would have turned out very differently if I had that career conversation with an advisor before I graduated.

3 Things You Can Do Today to Reach More Students on Social Media

I’m often asked, “That’s great Joshua. But what are some practical things I can do to leverage social media to get my students to engage?”

Here are three ideas, but there are many many more:

1. Don’t schedule your events on the same day as other school events

This might seem obvious, but part of using social media is acknowledging the reality of your audience. And students need to see career services as simply another facet of their college life. Don’t try to compete for their attention. Your office is part of a greater whole.

2. Use Facebook to demand accountability

If you are on Facebook several times a day, well, so are your students. If you want their attention, “hey, did you work on that resume revision I gave you yet?”. What better way to ensure accountability that Facebook. Just start a new account and connect with every student you meet. Read how one Career Advisor in Oregon uses this approach.

3. Create cross-promotional opportunities with other offices

The greatest compliment on Twitter is a re-tweet mostly because it exposes your message to a wider audience. I’m pretty sure other departments on school attract a different audience that what you’re used to: theater kids, jocks, programmers, track stars…you name it. If you promote the sports team’s events, they’ll promote yours back. Create alliances for cross-promotion.

YOU Have the Most Important Job at Your School

Some professors might disagree, but it’s true.

Whenever you feel frustrated about keeping up with social media, technology, or hiring trends, remember you are someone’s hero. And, you can share one piece of information you learn from a blog post, email, or lecture with a student and change their life.

I try to remember this whenever I’m speaking to a group of students, and I try to remind career advisors when I’m speaking to them.

You are someone’s hero because you were willing to break the taboo against talking about careers.

And, yes, I landed my first real job thanks to the brave warriors at the Brown University career center!