Students on phones

Orange Coast College’s Literature and Languages division has launched the college’s first-ever career program offering a certificate of achievement in social media strategy.

Classes starting this fall are part of the new full program of study designed to prepare students for entry-level jobs in social media, contributing to the state’s goal of developing a strong workforce.

“I think that this certificate program is very timely,” said Dean of Literature and Languages Michael Mandelkern. “The job market is good for people in this field and there’s good-paying jobs for people with the proper training. I’m very excited about it.”

The program’s curriculum was developed with interdisciplinary input from across departments on campus and an advisory committee comprised of local business leaders.

One of the only structured programs of its kind in California’s community college system, OCC’s Social Media Strategist certificate will include six classes covering topics in business, writing, marketing, public relations, graphics, multimedia and fashion, and can be completed in less than two years.

“The organizers were forward-thinking in creating a program that elevates social media beyond the traditional marketing function,” said Diogba Gbye, professor of social media marketing strategy.

Gbye teaches social media strategies, with a focus on content creation. More than capitalizing on many students’ natural social media abilities, Gbye believes in laying the important foundation of listening to the audience to become part of the conversation. Then, social media strategists can turn that into engagement to create a community.

Stressing social media’s importance in more than just business applications, Gbye said this type of communication is the key to building any kind of successful organization, including churches, hospitals and schools.

The program concludes with a semester of directed practice where students will complete an internship developed in partnership with a local business. 

Mandelkern said the average salary for a social media specialist is about $57,000 right now.

“Any internship is an opportunity to network, develop a résumé and really get hands-on with real-world experience,” said OCC Career Counselor Katie Ottoson. “It also gives the student a chance to figure out if that’s what they really want to do.”

After information sessions held last year, Ottoson said students understood that social media is not only key to communication in the working world, but that it’s an essential tool everyone needs to effectively manage their personal brand.

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