I recently spoke to a group of public relations and marketing students about using social media in a business setting. This group of “go-getters” made me stop and think about what’s missing from their curriculum — “How to put business strategy behind social media.”

These students are surrounded by social media in their personal lives and are known to be digital natives and Millennials, but many “professionals” take for granted that students inherently know how to use social media in a professional setting. As they graduate many are seeing job opportunities in social media, but have very little hands-on, practical experience using it.

One student said in her degree coursework social media is referred to as the “future” of public relations, but she knows better. It is the “now.” And she’s not sitting back and waiting for the know-how to come to her, she is seeking out answers.

This mentality — this thirst for knowledge — is one reason these students are so impressive. They are willing to take risks and learn something beyond what is assigned in class. They are taking the initiative to put themselves out there and learn something new. This self-motivation (perhaps self-preservation) will serve them well as they embark on their careers.

This is not to say there are no courses starting to address new and social media, but they are few and far between. For example, here’s a university course that teaches the importance of digital media and offers students a hands-on learning approach. It’s a recent offering at Missouri State University and highly sought after by upper-level students. Only 15 students allowed each semester. No doubt this is the start of a trend of courses to come. But for now, the students are bridging the gap on their own time for the most part.

Here are stand-alone courses in the Springfield area (not comprehensive):
Note: these are not part of core degree requirements, most fall under “professional development.”

  • Ozarks Technical Community College
  • Missouri State University
  • Drury University’s Social Media Certification Program
  • Missouri Small Business & Technology Development Center
  • Know of other course offerings in the area? Please post them below.

    Related Articles:
    Managing Millennials: Eleven Tips for Managing Millennials (about.com)
    Millennials Bring New Attitudes (ENR.com)
    The Network for Springfield’s Young Professionals (springfieldchamber.com)
    Social Media Online Courses: Where Are They? (b2cmarketinginsider.com)

    Follow-up:
    A good article about using social media in the university classroom (thanks for sharing @benasmith)
    How to Integrate Social Tools into the Journalism Classroom (pbs.org/mediashift)

    Follow Claire Faucett on Twitter (@clairefaucett).