Update: Alex has accepted a job offer… at Twitter. Congratulations, Alex!
A little over a year ago, I sent this tweet:
The time has come to make good on my promise. In a few short weeks, Alex Kowalsky will walk across the stage as a UW-Madison graduate. I’ve gotten to know Alex through Twitter over the last year, and he continues to exhibit social media management skills far above what I would expect from an undergraduate student. It probably doesn’t hurt that he’s been an intern for over a year with the UW-Madison University Communications & Marketing office—the campus won Klout’s influencer insanity, was called a smart social media school by PC Mag, and their #UWRightNow project is included in Social Works, a new book about college and university social media campaigns.
Alex will be the first to tell you that he can’t take credit for all of this, but he was a part of the team that made it happen. He’s been part of social projects larger than most campuses or companies could ever dream of. And, lucky for you, he’s currently on the job market.
Alex isn’t just a guy attending a Big Ten school with a sweet internship. He’s currently managing 18 credits, working three jobs, and assisting with a social media course. Frankly, it’s maddening that he hasn’t found a job yet. So, dear readers, please pass this on to folks you know who are looking to hire a social media savvy, liberal arts-educated (poli sci & journalism double major), ambitious, go-getter type. He thinks he’d like to work in a digital agency—and I’m sure he’d excel in that environment—but honestly I think that there’s a dream job out there for him that he’s not aware of yet. Is it in your office?
That’s enough of my thoughts about Alex. I sent him a few questions so I could prep for this blog post, and I’m basically going to let him speak for himself.
Liz: You’ve managed social media for a Big Ten campus, freshman orientation & first year programs, university libraries, and a local legislator. What are the similarities and differences to your approach in these different roles?
Alex: It’s easy to forget that social media is about being social. It’s about people—whether you’re making them smile, providing customer service or any other task you could be doing. I think it’s important to make it clear that there’s a person behind the account that listens and continues to give people a reason to follow the account. Social media is a conversation—you can use it to broadcast and gain thousands of followers—but people become more engaged and more effective brand ambassadors if they know that they can come to your social media presence for assistance as well as compelling, useful content.
The biggest differences are fully understanding the nuances of tones, content, audiences and strategies for various roles. I’ve been working with an assemblyman since November and it’s been really outside my comfort zone. I feel like I’ve had to teach myself a new language for the political pages. Even thought I’m a political science major, crafting messages and managing a political social media presence has been a whole new ball game for me. With UW-Madison, I’ve had years of learning the insides and outsides of the university community—so it’s easier for me to translate my Badger pride into communicating with alumni, students, campus and other audiences on social media. The fundamentals are the same—the platform, content and approach—but the most important is the people and knowing them.
Liz: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned during your time at UW-Madison?
Alex: The values of patience and paying it forward. I think the best part of UW-Madison is how much I’ve been challenged inside and outside of the classroom. I’ve had to work to earn everything I’ve learned and done in the last four years. I tried out to be Bucky twice. I applied for dozens of campus jobs. I got rejected by the journalism school. But I kept trying and I found my way. I never could have imagined becoming a journalism and strategic communication major and the first social media intern at UW-Madison. I’ve been fortunate to have great mentors on campus like John Lucas and Don Stanley as well as the rest of #UWSocial and University Communications staff. Dozens of UW alums—too many too name—have been more than generous with their time and resources to connect me with opportunities to learn and grow in new digital media. Badgers are wonderful people.
Liz: Staying within the realm of reality, what would your ideal first post-graduation job look like?
Alex: I’ve been told that there aren’t jobs for journalism majors out there. I’ve responded that every organization in the world needs someone to communicate for them and that’s where I come in. I really believe in the social part of social media and communications. I love people. I love communications. Whether I end up doing PR, social media, digital media, sales, advertising or anything else with the internets—I’ll be incredibly grateful for an opportunity to learn as much as I can. I want to work in a forward looking organization with the colleagues that are the best at what they do. I’ve spent a lot of my time over the last several years critically engaging with the best social media companies, ad agencies and brands and thinking about how I would integrate with their current products and presences. It’s a bizarre exercise—but as a true social media junkie, I process the world through framing organizations by their social media presences. I actively investigate the web presences of schools, companies of various industries, musicians, TV shows, etc. to further my studies of social and digital media. So, I want to find someone who will give me the opportunity to harness social media to advance their cause or brand. I don’t want to work for anyone evil.
Liz: What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Alex: 1) Accepted to the journalism school, 2) John hiring me as the first social media intern, 3) #UWRightNow, 18 hours in 2012, going full 24 hours in 2013, 4) UW-Madison becoming verified on Twitter
Liz: If you could do whatever you want without having to worry about expenses and a paycheck, what would it be?
Alex: I’d open a slow food, organic restaurant and the second floor would be my digital advertising agency. Oh and you can bring your bikes to our bike mechanic operation. #AJBeyond
Liz: In 140 characters or less, why should someone #HireAlex?
Alex: Experienced. Hungry. Ready to learn. But seriously, I’m hungry to win the internet. Let’s do it together. #HireAlex