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With careers in mind, Kutztown starts social media major

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FILE PHOTO
Kutztown University is one of the few colleges in the nation to offer a major in social media, which it launched this academic year.
FILE PHOTO Kutztown University is one of the few colleges in the nation to offer a major in social media, which it launched this academic year.

Not many people go a day without social media.

Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are some of the most-used forms of social interaction for many people, especially the younger generation.

Since so much time is spent sharing content online, it stands to reason that employers want employees who know their way around a social media site. What better way to do that than hire someone with a college degree in social media.

Last fall, Kutztown University became one of only a handful of universities to offer its students a social media major, according to assistant professor Keith Massie and professor Moe Folk, co-creators of the school’s bachelor of science in social media theory and strategy program.

“Companies are hiring people to monitor their social media. Are they getting positive press? Negative press?” said Massie, assistant professor in the Communications Department at Kutztown. “They want people to write content and post it to social media.”

Massie said a recent search of the job site Indeed.com revealed at least 68,000 social media-related job openings. Employers are willing to pay top salaries to those skilled in social media.

“They want to know how their product is doing,” he said. “What are people saying online about them?”

20 STUDENTS

Massie said Kutztown has 20 people enrolled in the social media major, which is higher than projected.

“It should grow steadily, rapidly even, and people going for that degree have to do an internship,” Massie said.

He added the university has companies interested in providing social media internships and is looking for more businesses that want to bring in a social media intern.

ACROSS MULTIPLE DEPARTMENTS

Folk, professor of digital rhetoric in the English Department at Kutztown, said courses for the major are shared among several departments and include studies in marketing, professional writing, communications, computer science and economics.

“The jobs out there in social media are constantly evolving. You can be a social media manager or director, or produce social media content and do marketing and analysis,” Folk said.

“You can also go the route of becoming an entrepreneur.”

‘HUGE JOB POOL’

Katelyn Melder is a Kutztown University student dual majoring in social media and professional writing. She said the social media major will allow her to pursue a job in marketing for companies by way of social media.

She said she hopes to find a job focused on marketing, content and analytics and expects that as time goes on, a lot more people will major in social media.

“There’s a huge job pool for social media, and everyone knows it,” Melder said.

PULLED IT ALL TOGETHER

Melder said the personal public relations course she is taking had students look for jobs in their chosen field.

“I found that Indeed.com, alone, has over 71,000 [social media] job offerings. LinkedIn is full of opportunities in this field, as well,” Melder said. “There are plenty of internships that students can apply for, on top of that. There are so many jobs available in social media, but no one is qualified enough to fulfill them.”

At Kutztown, “social media theory and strategy combines marketing, writing and analytics to provide a truly unique program,” Melder said. “Some universities provide majors in social media marketing or interactive and social media. ...

“Kutztown University pulled business, English and communications together to create something that’s never been done.”

SOCIAL MEDIA LAB

According to Massie, it took years of research and planning to get approval for the social media major. The next step is to eventually hire a faculty member whose sole focus is on the degree.

Massie and Folk say that, by the fall, the university intends to unveil its SMASH Lab, a digital learning classroom housing more than a dozen monitors, software and equipment so students can monitor and track live Twitter feeds and perform data analysis of social media content.

Folk said that they are looking for corporate and nonprofit sponsors for the lab to help pay for the cost and upkeep of equipment and software.

Massie also said a social media minor is planned for the near future.

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