Hi Kristine, it sounds like you are searching for clarity and direction for your career. These are all great questions and here are some recommendations to help with your search. The marketing and advertising industry is a vast and far reaching industry. You have access to many experts in the community. And once you are in the industry you will find supportive members to add to your network and possible leaders to become mentors. Here are some suggestions to help get you started.
1) Create a LinkedIn profile if you haven't already done so. Network, Network, Network. It is OK if you don't have all the answers and the experience, but LinkedIn is a great way to connect and network with professionals who are experts or leaders in Social Media. Go ahead and send a quick message to professionals you admire or share similar professional interests. Invite them to chat over the phone or for coffee and use this meeting as a means to interview them about the industry, the company they work for and what they love most about their role.
2) Secure or find an internship at an Marketing & Advertising Agency or Startup. This will give you real world experience. And even if the internship lasts for 1-2 months a) you will learn and gain so much from the experience, b) you will build you professional network and c) you will get some or most of your questions answered about pursuing a career in Social Media.
Here is a link to one of the leading Social Media startups:
- Sprinklr (https://www.sprinklr.com/)
- Startups in SF: (http://sanfrancisco.startups-list.com/startups/social_media%20marketing)
Also, here are links to 2 of the largest marketing and advertising agencies. They offer Summer internships for students interested in pursuing a career in this industry.
- Wunderman (http://www.wunderman.com/)
- Omnicom (https://www.omnicommediagroup.com/default.htm)
3) Do some homework and research regarding the company and industry. This will help answer some of your questions prior to reaching out to professionals or companies. The questions you are unable to answer, you can reach out on LinkedIn and get them answered. This will also help you clarify what your next steps and goals will be professionally.
Best of luck!