To Better Prepare Grads for Real Social Media Jobs, This Agency Created a College Class

VML partners with Mizzou on advanced strategy course

Global marketing agency VML noticed recent graduates entering the advertising workforce hadn't quite mastered social media. Fresh out of college, they understood Twitter, Instagram and Facebook as it applied to their own personal brand, but when it came to a larger client's brand, the agency found new hires didn't really have a clue. 

VML teamed up with the Missouri School of Journalism and created a social media course, titled Advanced Social Media Strategies, designed to better prepare young people for the demands of entry-level social media positions today. 

"We don't have people come to us with the right kind of education when we recruit them out of school," Chad Martin, director of social and emerging media at VML, told Adweek. "With this partnership, we're able to better shape the future of talent across the strategic communications industry, and we're honored to work with the Missouri School of Journalism to create this opportunity for students," Martin added in an email. 

What makes this course different than a typical college social media class, according to the university, is that the agency was directly involved in creating the syllabus, deciding which skills and lessons are key for students to learn in order to succeed at an agency. While Suzette Heiman, a professor and director of planning and communications for the school, will teach the course, the VML team will continue to contribute each week.

As part of the course, which meets twice a week, the 20 participating students will break into teams and get "real-world experience" by manning the journalism school's social media accounts. The agency will also bring members of its team into the classroom, from VML interns and the agency's strategy team to CEO and MU graduate Jon Cook. Some clients and brands working in social are also slated to contribute. 

"From an agency perspective, we have worked to develop a playbook for the actual school. We've gone through how we would do it with our clients and developed the syllabus the same way," Martin said. "We're making them work like a newsroom. They know what's going on [on campus], and they're going to pitch us ideas and execute the content."