Why we need to take emerging careers more seriously

I remember computing lessons at school with desktops and monitors lined up in rows, set-up towering over the heads of the class seated in ‘computer chairs’. I’d spend most of the lesson trying to remember my password xhkejqc8976 of which I wasn’t allowed to write down because other students who might get their hands on my log-in and run a muck on Microsoft Paint. I remember Bebo and my Myspace bio with ‘Uffie’ playing in the background it read, ‘Howdy y’all, Libdog is the name, G-town is my turf […]’. Now this all seems like an absolute joke. However in late 2005 Uffie (singer-songwriter) wrote “Pop the Glock” and released it as a Myspace demo which launched her career (Wikipedia) the adoption of social media sites into the mainstream and their apps years later have significantly changed career pathways, how we connect and the way that people use the internet. The rise of social media also widened the divide between parents and technology during the noughties. It’s no wonder the gap between parents and the future of work…

After going through university and the entry level job ranks to middle management what I realise now is my English and Art lessons were the skills that I needed to make the most of technology, it wasn’t the skills I was learning in IT class in the 2000s. It’s now how we express ourselves and elevate our human experiences through these platforms. 

I’ve veered away from business operational roles to content creation which has questionable prospects. Yet more than 4.5 billion people now use the internet, while social media users have passed the 3.8 billion mark. There’s no denying the significance of social media. Although older generations may not be computer literate they’re likely to utilise social media platforms such as Whatsapp and Facebook to communicate, consume content and purchase goods and services. Social Media platforms and other platforms alike make the usability of technology now much simpler hence the adoption curve.

Nevertheless the social media domain still has a certain stigma and isn’t considered a career. It’s also often associated with fashion and art industries that make significant economic, cultural and political contributions to society. The idea that social media is just ‘fun’ is a short fall upon the impact that it has had over the past decade and is continuing to have. 

I used to have aspirations of working for an international not-for-profit or in foreign policy. When people’s careers are focussed around addressing important issues such as world hunger or homelessness you do question the importance of social media. After middle management, starting a concept called Libbation isn’t too far flung from my Myspace bio. I was a little embarrassed telling people when I started freelancing and building my brand because I didn’t have career ambitions beyond this; people didn’t think I was ambitious enough anymore or that I’d gone completely rogue. 

However, the power that you have in this realm to build brands, to inspire and to work with businesses that are providing solutions to real problems, means the work can be just as important. Social media has been significant in the past decade and it’ll continue on as essential onto the next. What I was learning during my early days of freelancing was that in every capacity that I was working in, content was driving the bottom line. It didn’t matter what organisation or industry I was in this type of marketing was what was needed and something that I could offer in a contracted capacity because of my writing ability and creativity not because of IT lessons. 

There’s still a lot of vagueness around social media. From a business perspective I see it as an evolution of sales; people used to call lead lists to see if anyone wanted to buy something, then came digital marketing and then partnerships upon the rise of social media and the usability of technology. How people are now gaining knowledge and consuming content is continuing to evolve. At school I should’ve known that I could’ve had a career in writing without working for a news room or writing a famous novel and that the skills were similar to creating my Myspace page. Education is yet to incorporate social media and industry is yet to consider the value of it. The generation of authentic and original content is essential for brands. Social media should be taken more seriously as it isn’t just fun and games.