Whilst working with our tech team this last week or so to get our new website over the finishing line I got to chatting with two of our placement year students about blogging and social media in general.
Both Declan and Conor are in the third year of their tech related degrees at University of Ulster and are working in their respective 12 month placement years at Learning Pool under the mentorship of our Head of Tech, Mark Lynch.
(What lucky souls they are, I have thought to myself and, no doubt, Mark would agree. Not just because they are working with Mark but because they are each assumed to be one of the team which means that they have individual responsibilities that are both real and business critical. Indeed, Declan has played an integral role in the development of the functionality around Learning Pool’s online community during our recent website refresh, amongst other things.)
Anyway, back to blogging.
When I asked the team why nobody blogged I got the answers I anticipated – “I don’t have the time,”, “What would I say?”, “I can’t write,” and “Who would read it anyway?”
Therein followed an interesting discussion where I talked about why it’s good to blog, especially if you’re a student. Here’s some of what I said:
- You don’t have to be the world’s best wordsmith to blog. A basic understanding of writing and being able to tell a story is all that’s needed. Given that Conor and Declan are both still at college they haven’t yet forgotten how to write assignments so they should be in good stead.
- You don’t have to be the world’s best story teller. Often the most interesting posts are those that are lists, comments on an article, story or news item or just pointing to some bookmarks that have caught your eye. Conor and Delcan both have to submit frequent assignments back to their respective tutors during their year out about what they’re up to and this, I told them, is the content for perfect blog fodder.
- Students, it is assumed, will be looking for employment once they graduate. One thing that Learning Pool does before it interviews anybody is check their digital footprint. You probably won’t get an interview with us if all we can find out about you is that your email address is firstname.lastname@example.org, for example (my apologies, Conor, I know it’s not). However, if you’ve written a blog about the subject area that you’re looking for employment in then you’re already head and shoulders above any other candidate, in our eyes. You’ve demonstrated ambition, thinking around your subject area and an ability to articulate yourself already.
- You don’t have to blog ‘for’ someone. Even if you’re just writing down your ramblings and then sharing it with a very select audience, that is still a good thing. Not every blog needs to get on Google’s first page. Blog for yourself, because it interests you and because you can. It looks great on your CV.
- Finally, and the thing that really appealed to Declan and Conor, most students have to submit progress reports during their placement years to update on what they’re learning and tie this back in to the curriculum. How much more impressive would it be to a lecturer if you were able to point them to your latest blog post as your submitted assignment, rather than a standard emailed Word document, especially if you’re a tech student?
So I’m pleased to say that, at the end of the afternoon, both Declan and Conor told me they were now going to start blogging, it seems I had persuaded them into it.
I look forward to their first posts soon and, you never know, I might get them on Twitter next.