Monday, October 24, 2011

Communication Careers at Tech Companies:Gowalla, HomeAway and Google

A panel of three tech professionals from Gowalla, HomeAway and Google spoke to Texas State students on Wednesday about the important role technology and networking play in creating startup companies. Start up is you on the line. There is no money to back you up like in companies like Google or other established companies. You can certainly take a risk but certain risks are harder because you can't fail. You must also be flexible when starting up a company and be willing to pull 15 hour days while working on 5 projects at the same time. In other words, it is hard work.

The panels' general advice to Texas State students preparing for a career in a start up company is to make connections because it is all about who you know. You can network by getting involved in Austin communities and online communities. You should start social accounts for the company on a business level rather than personal facebooks and twitter accounts. Students were told to also attend networking events, join the social media club and go to things like Austin Tech Happy Hour. The representative from google told us that it is extremely important to express our personality in our interviews and resumes so we can spice it up.

I learned that the best way to network as a public relations major is to know what your talking about when networking with professionals and say something smart. The panel emphasized to know who your talking to, do your research and ask good questions. This will show professionals that you are prepared, well informed and familiar with them. Professionals really appreciate it when you say something thoughtful or ask a thoughtful question. The representative from HomeAway strongly advised not to put that you are a "social media guru" on your resume because you are not an expert. She said that is one of the fastest ways to get your resume thrown out. The panel also emphasized posting interesting things on twitter and cleaning up your facebook. All companies hiring you will see your twitter account and facebook and form an impression on you. For example, you don't want to have pictures doing a keg stand. They advised starting a facebook page on a hobby so you will know the back ends of pages.

In addition to giving students advise the panel talk about their companies. I learned that the Gowalla social application allows people to share their stories at places and sites for free. The google representative talked about Google Places. She said 1 and 5 searches on google are location placed searches. For example, many people search things like "pizza in San Marcos, Texas. Google Places gives you recommendations based on what you search in the past as well as your best friends recommendations.

Crisis management was also a topic of discussion on Wednesday. The panel advised mass communication students to manage situations as close to immediately as they can, address the problem and be aware of the conversations on your social accounts. The best thing to do is acknowledge and apologize. Don't think you don't have a problem because as long as you have one unhappy customer you have a problem.

In closing, the Google representative said that a mass communications' career in technology is 24/7. She experiences community manger burnout. She is constantly checking her social media like e-mail and twitter but it is the life you have to live. Competition from other companies is good because it allows you to expand your ideas in order to make them better and keeps you passionate about your work.

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