This week on the SEMrush blog, we're focusing on how digital technology has shaped various generations. We hope our insights and advice specifically provide guidance to recent graduates. We'll bring you insights from members of the SEMrush team on upcoming podcasts as well as tips and messages of encouragement from other recent grads in the field.
In the spirit of this theme, I offer my thoughts on what my generation brings to the workplace.
Thirtysomethings and the Digital Landscape
In 1999, my ‘senior will’ said I’d make my living on the Internet. Everyone thought it was funny when I started making some extra cash by selling used clothing online. A teacher later admitted that he regretted missing out on an early opportunity for eBay stock after he learned about my enthusiasm and success with the then-nascent service.
Whether they were skeptical or intrigued, most of my high school classmates are also making money and increasing brand presence through established digital marketing strategies. Digital marketing isn’t just an option – it’s a necessity for new and established brands of all varieties. Beyond the success of early Internet champions like eBay, thirtysomethings have learned uniquely about the importance of the Internet and digital marketing - because we were the ones thirstiest for the technology as its implementation was just beginning.
What do Thirtysomethings Bring to the Digital Job Market Today?
I turned thirty-four in March. Thirty-four. At some point in the last decade I stopped being ‘a young professional who easily adapts to new media practices’ and started marketing myself as a ‘digital publishing veteran with ten years of experience in online content publication, management, and marketing.’
I hope that means I’m more experienced - without sounding like I am totally outdated when it comes to adapting digital technology.
My advantage is this – I came of age with the Internet. Back in the day, I learned to code on Geocities before they had a real WYSIWYG interface because that was the only option. When the financial Internet bubble burst, I still trekked into digital publishing because I believed it was important for people to be able to publish their own messages without interference.
Then I watched as things got easier – as digital products started giving people what they wanted and needed; as Google grew and began to dramatically affect all things Internet.
What do I see now? The age of successful start-ups and a more open understanding about digital possibilities and content. The things I wanted to happening are happening – and my generation worked to shape that vision.
Young Professionals Are Essential
While us thirtysomethings have our own value, young professionals are essential in marketing and technology, especially if you are trying to market to people their age. At this point in my career, I’ve focused very specifically on what I want to do and what I’m good at - and that includes the social networks I use. I know about tumblr, Instagram, and Snapchat, but with the variety of social networks available and my limited time, I don’t use them all regularly. I just stay on top of industry news.
A recent college graduate with an interest in social media marketing, however, is likely more versatile. Plus, she’ll be able to recommend the trends on those sites as well as networks with increasing value to people like her – and therefore, anyone trying to market to young professionals.
Online Safety vs. Personal Brand and Meeting People Online
I remember the days of extreme caution on the Internet – as a minor, I was instructed to never use my real name online – not even my first name.
To increase the quality of content and cut down on trolls and other miscreants, many major online networking tools and social sites (like Facebook and LinkedIn) now require you to use your real name. And if you’re on those networks that don’t (like Twitter) your work and results won’t be respected as much without an authentic moniker attached.
For a long time, meeting people online was considered downright weird – or a great way to end up as a victim of a real crime. However, online reach is now essential to general marketing and networking. Now if you don’t use online tools to connect with others or at least find in-person networking events, you’re really behind the times.
Thirtysomethings were there during that whole awkward transition – when we were teens and adults didn’t think of the Internet as ‘real’ space because it isn’t tangible. I have the wisdom to know that using my real name online is often important while also being aware that something as simple as blogging about gaming could lead to an unsafe situation for me because the Internet is full of all types of people.
We’ve seen the Internet at its best and in the midst of culture wars - and we have enough experience to sidestep issues when it’s necessary and navigate them successfully when it’s time to join the conversation.
What is your generation’s outlook on the digital landscape? Do you have advice for recent grads? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
Header image credit: Canva & Picjumbo. Apple, the Apple logo and iPhone are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.
Tara M. Clapper is a technical editor for SEMrush and the senior editor at The Geek Initiative, a website celebrating women in geek culture.