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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Social media top as Gen Z’s preferred job pick

Once considered entertainment — or a distraction — social media ranked among the top five jobs for Gen Z college graduates in 2023. It’s a newish career trajectory that experts say will only continue to expand. 

When around 11,900 Aggies walk the stage May 9-11, the race to find the best job fit goes into high gear. Fortunately for 2024 graduates and those looking ahead to that momentous day, Texas A&M provides on-campus career center tools, as well as the skills learned in class and by networking, that can launch career opportunities. 

The rise of social media platforms and the industry has caused media to shift to become the most popular Gen Z jobs, according to a recent study by Samsung U.S. Newsroom. Since the mid-2010s, when print media was solely graphic designers, social media has been on the rise in the job market, said Des Wilson, executive director of the A&M Career Center. 

“I think that not only [now] are there social media responsibilities part and parcel to many jobs in an organization, where 10 years ago, they probably weren’t, or they weren’t taken seriously,”  Wilson said. “Today, they are a very integral part of positions in organizations.”

Now, many more full-time jobs and careers focus on social media, said Class of 2022 graduate Brady Stone, a digital producer at the Houston Chronicle. Stone said more people have the necessary skills to assist with running social media pages for businesses or brands. 

“A lot of these industry leaders working on socials really only got started on social media in the mid-2010s,” Stone said. “It’s very fresh. It’s very new that there even is a social media industry.”

Social media managers were ranked seventh in 2017 for most popular jobs for college graduates, according to Glassdoor. The study showed that the top majors for the job included communications, public relations and English, with a median base pay of $44,000. The ranking has since grown to be the top-sought Gen Z job. 

Websites including LinkedIn, Indeed and ZipRecruiter list local and national posting for social media positions such as digital, media and marketing. In 2022-2023, approximately 114,300 job openings were available for media and communication occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Nancy Parish is an instructional assistant professor with 23 years of experience teaching college-level communication, social media and public relations courses.  Parish said she teaches her students how to work with clients, nonprofit organizations and campaigns to learn about working in the real world of social media. 

“You’re pushing the trends, you’re making the decisions, so you’re the ones that are at the forefront,” Parish said.

Parish noted that businesses seek out Gen Z employees because Gen Z grew up on social media, while previous generations often have to learn, study and practice social media. Gen Z is very familiar with the platforms and trends, so they would know the right content for their audience, she explained. 

 “I think any company that engages with their stakeholders or the people that follow them and relate with their audience is going to be great,” Parish said. “I think Texas A&M does a pretty darn good job [on socials].”

Social accounts like Wendy’s, Scrub Daddy and Miss Rev X all have popular platforms where people can engage with and learn about what a successful social media presence looks like. 

“[Students] also need to understand various aspects of understanding beyond just what they’ve seen,” Parish said. “Oh, it goes viral for this reason or that reason. They need to go beyond what made it viral.”

 Facts and understanding the laws, statistics and theories are vital components of social media education beyond a focus on content appearance. 

“There’s not any one thing that people really need to latch onto because it’s important to have some diversity in your experience, even in terms of social media,” Stone said. “Get acquainted with Reddit, get acquainted with LinkedIn, get acquainted with everything, because working in the social media field, it’s rare that you would be just working on one platform.”

Stone added that it is easier for Gen Z since they spend most of the day scrolling platforms on their own time. 

KBTX news director Josh Gorbutt said social media is a way for the audience to engage and also to reach those who have access to phones and personal technology 24 hours a day. 

“I think that a perfect digital employee is so much more than someone who is focused on social media or focused on one particular topic,” Gorbutt said. “They’re a great writer, and they have a great visual eye because they’re going to create visual content that needs to appeal to an audience. They have a great ability to communicate person-to-person as well.”

The average annual salary for media industry jobs is around $120,163 a year, according to ZipRecruiter. Based on local job postings in the Bryan-College Station, the average annual salary is $99,375. The average varies based on the state and the city, but media industry jobs can pay anywhere from the 25th percentile to the 75th percentile, according to ZipRecruiter. 

“[Companies] know the academic side is covered, but what they know they’re also going to get is someone who’s going to roll up their sleeves and get to work,” Wilson said. “Someone who is going to come with fresh ideas and understand how to articulate those ideas in a work setting.” 

The 2022-2023 Career Center overview showed 45,600 job postings for full-time, co-op and internships for graduating students. There were 121,000 job postings posted in HireAggies, with 4,000 jobs from active recruiting companies. HireAggies is an exclusive resource for current and former A&M students and a resource under A&M’s Division of Student Affairs.

Wilson said A&M’s Career Center resources are available to any student or former student seeking guidance on career, professional development or employment-related matters. In addition to in-person resources, several job search tools are available on its website.

While career fairs are open to all job seekers, some designated for social media are held by the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business, Agriculture and Life Sciences, and Performance and Visual Arts. Scheduled fall 2024 job fairs include Arts and Sciences on Sept. 17-18, AGLS on Sept. 19-20, and Business on Sept. 25-26. 

“The social space offers a lot of things,” Gorbutt said. “It’s fast-paced, it’s different every day, and it requires communicating with candor. When you post something that isn’t genuine, it doesn’t resonate. Having that lets you ‘be you’ every day, or you as a voice of a company.” 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the media industry is expected to be in demand and worth $1.5 trillion to the U.S. economy by 2030. A study showed that social media marketing is a faster-growing industry than the average job growth rate. 

Nearly two years after graduating with a USLA journalism degree, Stone said audience engagement and social media are more than just a Gen Z trend.

“I definitely think [social media] is now seen as a respected career,” Stone said. 


Preslie Bentley is a journalism junior and contributed this article from JOUR 203 Media Writing I to The Battalion.

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