Today is Community Manager Appreciation Day, and I find myself reflecting on all of the lucky occurrences that helped get me to where I am. From Penn State to Paris, and now, San Francisco, it’s been quite a journey. This is my story.
It all began three months into my junior year at Penn State. I had spent the summer of 2010 studying French in France, and all I could focus on was finding a way to get back there as soon as possible. In college, October is about the time of year when you start thinking about what you’re going to do the following summer. My brain was telling me that I needed an internship, but my passion was telling me to get back to France.
Could there possibly be a way for me to go to Paris and have an internship? By some stroke of luck, I was studying in the business building on the night of the Smeal Global Impact Internship fair. This was the first of many opportunities that the universe threw right in front of me to lead me to where I am today. The first thing I saw was a table covered in signs boasting of partnerships with businesses abroad who want American interns. After about five minutes of talking to the rep, I was running home to apply.
The next part of the story involves lots of applications, interviews, and administrative stuff with the program I had found – Intrax Internships Abroad. The group offered a list of companies, many of which I hadn’t heard about before except for Microsoft and France Telecom. After I found out that the Microsoft internship was in finance (I studied marketing), and that France Telecom didn’t want an intern that summer, I decided to just let Intrax decide for me. Why not? Many of the internships were in marketing and as long as I got to live in Paris for the summer…
The rep from Intrax told me that she thought I’d be a great fit for this new startup called Scoop.it. Without a clue as to what Scoop.it was, I accepted. After a few more interviews with the Scoop.it team, I landed the internship and headed to Paris! As the days and weeks passed, I fell more in love with my job and everything about my life in Paris. I learned things I never would have had the chance to learn without this experience, like how to work full time in my second language, how to adapt to a whole new culture by literally being thrown into a whirlwind of it, and that there was actually a “tech” industry where people studied social media, online marketing, and even networking and community building. The summer I spent in Paris led to my true passion being born.
During my senior year of college, I remained a part of the Scoop.it team and realized that I couldn’t wait until I graduated college and do this for the rest of my life. I returned to the US as a completely different person; a professional with goals and the motivation to meet those goals as soon as I possibly could. Every day, I learned something new and immediately fell in love with my quest. As I continued working with Scoop.it, I continued my journey to learn everything I possibly could about online marketing and community, spending a large majority of my time outside of my “official” studies to learn more about what I knew I wanted to do for a living. It’s hard to learn about something like community management in college because the industry is pretty new. Today, is only the fourth annual Community Management Appreciation Day.
My adventure continues…in June of 2012, I moved to San Francisco. The first thing I saw on the way from the airport to my hotel was a billboard for Zynga. I couldn’t believe that this world was real — the mecca of technology, social media and innovation. Being in San Francisco and working full time as a community manager finally gave me the chance to further explore the field, find new ways to develop personally and professionally, and build a network of friends and professionals. To say that my journey is even close to finished would certainly be wrong; I continue to learn, grow, and explore every minute of every day.
I’m lucky to have had this series of fortunate events occur at the perfect time of my life, but my story also goes to encourage others to follow their passion, even if it’s something you just discovered about yourself. I’m a believer that, when you’re chasing after what you want to do, the little things will fall into place and make it a reality – it happened to me, and can happen to you, too!
So, what am I celebrating this Community Manager Appreciation Day? Life’s little serendipitous events, Paris, and continuing passion for one of the most rewarding jobs out there.