Using Insta-Language to Connect with Students

By Andrew Kohls, Assistant Director, Kansas State University Career Center

As an aging millennial, the drive to conquer all available social media apps is real! This is especially true with student affairs professionals, as we see our students effortlessly switch back and forth between platforms. For me, the big push came when I realized more and more students were dropping Facebook or not creating an account at all. I wanted to get away from Facebook and place my efforts on beefing up my Instagram account, where I could better connect with the “younger” world!

Looking back, I think I was forced to create an Instagram account to connect to a website or another app; I honestly can’t remember. I knew it was there, but I rarely touched it. (Kind of like some of our students and their LinkedIn accounts!) Like every “big” decision in my life, I wanted to seek input from experts who were familiar with the topics I was not. For my Insta-overhaul, I consulted only the best: my high school cousins and one of my faithful student workers! ☺

As I was looking through other Instagram accounts, I noticed that most people had a little blurb about them underneath their profile name. To be consistent, I realized that I also needed something! I texted my experts right away and said,

“Hey! I need a catchy, cool blurb for my Instagram! Can you help?”

Their responses…

“What does that even mean?”
“Like the part that goes under your name?”
“You mean, a bio?”

Obviously I needed a lesson on Insta-language! Once the experts finally understood what I was talking about, the A-HA moment happened!

They responded…
“What do you want viewers to know about you?”
“What do you want it to encompass?”

MIND.BLOWN! Suddenly, I felt as if I were the student and they were the professionals (which in this case, they were!). As a career advisor, my mind immediately went to cover letter and resume development. The questions these students had just asked me are the same questions I ask my students daily! I’m always looking for parallels between my students’ worlds and how they can apply their skills to university careers, and THIS.WAS.IT!

Since my breakthrough, I’ve started using Insta-language with all of my students, particularly my first-year students. Of course, I still use the Instagram “bio” (not blurb!) example to discuss tailoring documents to their intended audiences, but I’ve also started using “Finstas” to discuss personal branding and specific content that may not be appropriate for employers to see. (P.S. “Finstas” are Instagram accounts that students set up, in addition to their regular Instagram accounts, to post certain content they may not want everyone to see!) I’ve also used Instagram “followers” to discuss networking, which enables students to look at their own accounts, explain why they follow certain people, and how they can apply that same concept with networking for their careers.

Overall, my students have reacted very positively to my use of “ Insta-language connections.” The key is to keep the convos light. Be mindful that some students DO NOT want you to know anything about their social media presence, and that’s ok. But above all, stay positive, make clear connections, and HAVE FUN!

This article was originally published by the author at


Andrew Kohls received a B.S. in Psychology from Kansas Wesleyan University and an M.S. in Academic Advising from Kansas State University. He is currently an Assistant Director in the Career Center at Kansas State University, working with the College of Architecture, Planning, and Design, as well as graduate students in the College of Arts and Sciences. Kohls also serves as an instructor, working with first-year students every fall as part of the K-State First Program. He has been working in higher education since 2010, having previous experience in immigration advising, orientation programming, and admissions. Connect with him at: LinkedIn: Instagram: @andkoh52


#WeToo: The Courageous Conversations We Should Be Having with Women About Career Readiness

By Ashley Motley, Kansas State University

Rosie the RiveterTuesday evening I was sitting in my car, heat on full blast, listening to NPR’s All Things Considered as I drove to meet up with the small group of women I spend time with on Tuesdays. Ailsa Chang, the host, began the next story by sharing that Naomi Parker-Fraley, the California woman who inspired the famous “Rosie the Riveter” poster had died that day. Thinking about the striking image of the woman in a red-polka-dotted handkerchief, her fist raised in strength and defiance to symbolize a new era of women working, made me pause to think about where we are now.

Women in the workplace have accomplished a lot since the 1940’s and yet, as Ann Curry put it in her recent interview with People Magazine, “The women’s movement got us into the workplace, but it didn’t make us safe once we got there.” She was referencing the recent, brave revelations of the many women sharing during the #MeToo movement and Times Up campaign. These thoughts of where we currently are with workplace culture for women lingered as I reached my destination and settled into conversation with my small group. The lovely, smart, career-driven women in front of me began to share the frustrations of the last week – many frustrations including the constant struggle to balance family and career, secure respect, and have community outside of work while still maintaining sanity because of limited time.  We talked about our desire to cultivate what matters in our lives – but what is that? What if we miss the important stuff while we are focusing on the wrong stuff?

Then, I thought about my students, as I have many times in the last few months. How do I have conversations with the young women I’m advising about what they cannot possibly understand yet? How do I tell them “I know you are facing adversity now, but gather all of your courage because the workplace is a wild frontier for women who want to lead…there are still so many challenges…”? I think about the students I’ve advised that are career changers. We’ve sat across from each other and tears have welled in both our eyes because we both know the struggle and the grit it takes, as a woman, to push past challenges from a past workplace experience and march boldly forward into a new season.

Therefore, I have a proposal. I believe as career professionals on campuses, we are uniquely situated to have powerful conversations about what is happening in culture in regards to women in the workplace. Here’s my proposal – let’s have courageous conversations with the women that enter our offices to talk about career readiness. Instead of just talking about how to negotiate salary, let’s also talk about what specific cultural challenges women face in different industries. Let’s give the women we are advising permission to want a career now and permission to change their minds if they decide they want something different down the road. Let’s equip women to be able to confront what we hope they’ll never have to face – harassment in the workplace. Let’s talk about what is okay and what isn’t okay and what to do about it. Let’s empathize with young women about what it feels like to not have the same respect we may see male colleagues receiving. Let’s go there, because I have big hope for the next wave of graduates entering the workplace. I think they can help move us forward.

Not sure where to start with a courageous conversation? Here are a few “active listening” questions you may utilize.

  • Have you thought about what you value in a work setting? Have you thought about what you value outside of work and how that might be affected by this work? Do you think this will look different 10 years from now?
  • Have you had the opportunity to shadow in this industry yet? Let’s talk about why that might be a good idea before taking an internship.
  • Are you working with a female mentor? Let’s talk about how to build relationships with women that have been doing this work, so you can seek feedback about how to best prepare for the industry.
  • Have you ever felt as if your voice was ignored or silenced? How did that make you feel?
  • What would you do if you weren’t afraid?
  • Where do you usually sit in a classroom or meeting room? How can you practice positioning yourself so that you are heard?

More great questions to consider with women advisees can be found in Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In Discussion Guide.

The difficult truth is that without additional workplace changes and enacted policy, women in the modern workplace may have reached the limits of their ability to multi-task. As career professionals, we can be advocates for the changes that would create more flexible and empowering work environments, but it is also our job to prepare our students for the truth they’ll encounter.

As I write this, I have just returned from a speech by Martin Luther King III commemorating the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s visit to our campus – the last campus he would speak on before his assassination. In his speech on the values of his father, Mr. King paused to say, “we will have gender equality one day.” He went on to talk about how, as we saw with the action of his father, a small group of men and women can create much change. I believe the individuals that make up our SoACE membership are capable of great change. We have the ability to be the great voices and advocates our students need.


Ashley Motley lives with her family in Manhattan, KS. She serves as an Assistant Director and liaison to the College of Arts and Sciences for Kansas State University. She received her M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction, college student affairs, from the University of South Florida. Currently, she serves as the KG Chair for the SoACE Experiential Education Knowledge Group.  She enjoys messy family dinners with her 4-year-old and husband, hiking the Konza Prairie and the CO mountains, and traveling to see friends in the southeast. 

Best Practices: Using Snapchat in Career Services

As the Digital Media Assistant at Career and Professional Development at St. Edward’s University, I am responsible for creating social media content and developing strategies for long-term growth and increased participation among students and alumni. Before this semester, we focused our social media efforts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn, so Snapchat is one platform that our department has not taken full advantage of. Therefore, when my boss Sally informed me about this webinar, I was intrigued to participate and gain insight on how we could effectively use Snapchat to inform and entertain our audience. I was always aware that Snapchat is a popular social platform for our target market, but it was difficult to justify spending time on a platform whose content disappears in 24 hours. This webinar gave me an opportunity to learn why it is important for us to have a presence on this social platform and demonstrated some strategies we could implement.

As a student, I often use Snapchat to share photos and stay updated with friends and family. However, learning about Snapchat for businesses is a completely different ball game and is something that I’m very interested in as a Digital Media Management major.

The University of Southern Florida webinar provided me with valuable information I was not aware of before and inspired me to develop creative ideas for St. Edward’s University Career and Professional Development. For example, after listening to this webinar, I decided to create a Snapchat filter for our Spring Job & Internship Fair using some ideas from the examples shown in the webinar. One of the best tips provided was to include ways for students to interact with the geofilter, so I added an element for students to include their major when using the geofilter. It also turned out to be a fun way to feature employers’ majors so students could see how their majors may or may not be directly related to their future career.

I also learned about how to define the area in which you would like to have your geofilter appear and was surprised by how affordable geofilters are, depending on the duration and location you choose.

This webinar also highlighted the importance of businesses having a Snapchat presence and showed that it is easy to reach our target market because students are the majority of Snapchat’s audience. The whole point of being active on social media is to be where your audience is, and we would be missing out on a critical opportunity if we ignored Snapchat as a social media platform.

Throughout my college career, I have had several experiences in digital and social media in addition to leadership, so my goal is to merge these interests together to help businesses reach their full potential. Immediately after I graduate, I will participate in the Disney College Program and engage in weekly professional seminars focused on Marketing & Sales and Leadership. During this six-month program, I believe I will gain valuable experience and knowledge that will prepare me to work in a leadership position at a marketing agency, likely in their digital strategy or branding departments. I hope to use my creativity, passion, and drive to provide a company with innovative solutions while focusing on enhancing interpersonal relationships.

Lisa Machado, class of 2017, works as Digital Media Assistant in the Career and Professional Development office at St. Edward’s University.