I wanted to be a community manager when I grew up. How many of us say that? Nah, not me either.
Actually I wanted to be a nun or a teacher, until I knew that I was to be a missionary. And that’s what I pursued, trained four years for and did in Mexico for 15 years. That was my identity for years until my husband & I and our children returned to the United States 16 years ago.
After our return, I was at a loss, going from job to job: daycare, credit assistant and 3 jobs involving various forms of receptionist and administrative assistant work. I can’t say I loved any of these jobs and I dreamed of being able to work from home (mostly because I hated driving in Minnesota winters). Finally I found a job where I could do just that, though I had two jobs at the same time to make ends meet.
I was hired at ICUC, a social media services company for big brands, as a content specialist. I spent 3 months moderating content on social media pages for a large entertainment company and then 1 year moderating comments for several online newspapers. At the same time, I ran an eBook conversion company for my brother.
I really wanted to move into the marketing and social media department of ICUC because I loved writing. So I started volunteering to help out and in a month was hired full time for the position of Social Media & Community Coordinator. I gave the eBook business back to my brother and happily settled into my new position writing for ICUC’s publications and managing their social media accounts. I am also responsible for our internal Google+ community as well as the CSR (corporate social responsibility) Champion for the company.
All this to say that I have found my career and my passion after 12 ½ years of wandering (after my return to the US). Even though this position came to me after I turned 50, I feel I have been preparing for it my entire life. When I think back to my childhood, teen years, college, family and mission field, I realize that I have experienced and practiced community management in all these areas.
Here’s an excerpt from a post I wrote on LinkedIn about learning community management from childhood on up:
- Family: I grew up with 4 brothers and 1 sister, all of us in a span of 11 years. If that wasn’t practice for community management I don’t know what was! I ended up being the stabilizer and peacemaker in many ways.
- School: This presented a whole arena from playground to lunchroom to classroom and most of it was determined by peer pressure. You belonged or you didn’t. I was not one of the “cool” kids and it helped me be compassionate, empathetic and wanting to make sure others felt included and accepted.
- College: This is where you get to start the journey as an adult. I learned to interact with respect, listen to others and form opinions. I learned to discuss without attacking. It’s a time of learning and practicing what you learn.
- Missionary: I spent 15 years in Mexico. I learned to appreciate a different culture and adopt it. I learned how to mentor and teach. If you don’t embrace the culture you find yourself in, then you will never feel settled and at home.
- Jobs: My various jobs are where I learned to work as a team. We all work together for the common goal. Collaboration, communication, respect, time, and patience: these are all needed for the workplace to run smoothly.
- Friends: This is the goldmine of community management prep. I am real with my friends. Transparency, honesty, kindness, generosity, helpfulness, understanding…the list goes on and on. I learned to bring out the best in others and encourage good feelings and actions. I learned to trust and be trustworthy.
We learn the art of managing communities throughout our entire lifetime and I consider myself fortunate to not only continue learning but have it in my title as well. We all have a story. What’s yours?
Latest posts by Teri Kojetin (see all)
- I Wanted To Be A Community Manager When I Grew Up - January 24, 2015
- Have You Considered a Community Management Service? - January 20, 2015