Guest Post via @wmjackson: HBCU Students Don’t Wait to Market Yourself

HBCU Students Don’t Wait
to Market Yourself
by Pro. William Jackson
Educational Technology and Social Media
Edward Waters College @wmjackson

HBCU students in the 21st century cannot wait to market themselves in a world of global commerce, digital Branding, intellectual sharing
and the vast Social Media sites that are building to get the word out
there about the talents, abilities, and skills that HBCU students possess.

HBCU students still struggle and have faced more challenges in the past
8 years as HBCU institutions struggle to remain relevant, real, and respiratory.
Even with the promises coming from the Trump administration, there will be strings attached, policies to follow, procedures to implement and even expectations that need to be achieved.  This is not a handout, I hope it is a help up for these historic institutions and if any money is provided it is not mismanaged, lost in ill-advised policies nor “misplaced.”

Internal struggles have been a challenge at HBCUs either through faculty stability, administration interaction with faculty and students or the changes in generations of priorities. The retention and graduation of students especially males is a serious issue that needs to be addressed.

The debate about the relevancy of HBCUs continues, data shows that a
high percentage of Black educators that are successful and work in the
most challenging schools graduate from HBCUs and continue on to
earn their advanced degrees. HBCU students are involved in STEM
careers even before STEM and STEAM were aligned with
educational initiatives.

As a graduate of an HBCU South Carolina State University ’85 and an
instructor at Edward Waters College, the oldest HBCU in Florida, the
struggle is real and in many cases is overcome with each victory of students graduating and becoming gainfully employed.

Teaching Educational Technology and Social Media
The challenge is teaching students how to compete for jobs before graduation, how to
brand, then market to a world of global competition and even tougher
globalization. This blog is about why HBCU students should market
themselves before graduation, usually starting in their junior year to
network with and collaborate with the “right folks.” Instilling in students that if you want to be an educator, hang out with educators, if you want to be a lawyer network with attorneys, if you want to even be a gamer then learn from, compete with and against, and importantly network with other gamers.

The most dangerous thing that keeps HBCU students from gaining their
dreams and aspirations is being afraid to network, speak with, talk to and exposed to the diversity that world has to offer. Talking to my students I share that you will not lose whatever “Blackness” you have if you have a diversity of friends, associates, networking groups that can empower, motivate, engage and collaborate with.

These suggestions are designed to help HBCU students get out of their mental boxes and to be less introverted and race-conscious of fear and self-imposed apprehension.

Suggestions to motivate and encourage
for students and educators:

1. Learn how to market yourself before you
search for jobs, before you graduate, either
at the start or before your junior year of
higher education, vocational school, or even
the transition from military service to civilian life.
2. Marketing shows your worth, talents, abilities, work ethic, leadership abilities, being able to function in diverse environments, acceptance, and tolerance of diversity.
Learn what marketing is….
3. The ability to adapt to the diversity of cultures, technology, responsibility,
and accountability for success and failures needs to be learned. That does not mean babying students it means teaching students how to adapt their biases, stereotypes that they may have and how to professionally deal with potential situations and circumstances.
4. HBCU students must always see themselves as investments.
The more you grow and improve the better investment you are to yourself and future employers.
5. Don’t wait until your senior year to rush to create a dope or lit resume. Start the first year and build by creating a living document of accomplishments, volunteerism, learning, leadership, community activism, and collaboration.

As a professor in higher education and as an elementary teacher it hurts my spirit when students state “why do I have to do that?” “I don’t wanna be bothered with those people.” My response is, “do the right people know you in the career you want or just those that do not want to see you grow beyond them?”

6. Show yourself as well rounded; the combination of academics, job-training, extra-curricular activities, volunteerism, all need to show your contribution to things bigger than you are. Are you a part of something bigger than you?
7. Look at the world globally not just locally. Jacksonville, Florida is the largest city in the USA by land mass. Students are encouraged in my class to have a global perspective of the world. The smallest global event in their major can have major implications on employment and involved in global markets.
8. Believe that your major course of study will have national and
potentially international influence as you grow and take on more responsibility.
The road to leadership is driven not by money, but by willing to work hard to make a difference in the world.
9. Learn to be familiar with foreign languages.  Dedicate yourself that you will learn a new language especially one where you may have to use when traveling. HBCU students can be heard talking that someday I want to, I might, maybe if.
They want to travel overseas, they do not take the time to plan, execute the plan or even save to meet the plan. You have to start with a plan!!!
10. HBCU students, network with cultural groups and participate in community events like festivals and networking socials. Never assume that there is already someone at an event that knows what you know. You have a wealth of information that no one else knows.
11. It is important for HBCU students to learn how to integrate Social Media tools and platforms beyond joking with their friends, partying, clubbing, and acting a fool. This multi-functional, diversely dynamic platforms can allow for communication with employers around the world. These platforms can help start a career or end a career before it gets started.
12. Being technology savvy is important and just as importantly is how to apply that knowledge. Use your knowledge to be involved in community initiatives that build communities, that bring people together and open doors for collaboration.
13. Have a reliable list of resources to help you grow. The library services at Edward Waters College has one of the best resources in its library staff. Emma Kent is a knowledgeable and dedicated professional that embraces technology. Accentuating the services the library at Edward Waters College offers. Too many students at HBCUs do not take the time to get to know their library professionals that have a wealth of information waiting to share and becoming friends with them. One of the best moves for me was to be friends with the librarians, custodial staff, be nice to the cafeteria man and women and secretaries. They became my “extra” parents with prayers, advice and even extra food on my meal trays!!
14. HBCU students must adapt their thinking as they matriculate through the
years. Their ideas, opinions, skills, networks must change. This change should
be seen in their attire, their speech, and self-confidence. Being a lifelong
learner brings benefits that will be seen in the future not just in the present.
15. Applying to both males and females, your visual personality is just as important as your e-personality and e-reputation. Make the conscious effort to protect yourself in the direction of your career goals and dreams.
16. During your growth, take advantage of tutoring and learning outside of
academics. Attend tutoring for interview skills, cultural understanding, career
counseling, and even role playing directed at your career interests.
The more prepared you are the better prepared you are.
Obtain a mentor, someone that has life experiences, and sees your potential
that you do not. Someone that sees you as an investment to a better
future and learn from them.

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