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


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.


What’s in Your Active Learning Toolbox

Contributed by: Claire Childress, Senior Assistant Director at Virginia Tech Career Services

Edward Weisband, Psci; classroom with students; diversity

“Everyone stand up. I’m going to read 5 items, and then follow the instructions.

  1. If you don’t know what you want to major in or the career you want to pursue, SIT DOWN.
  2. If you want to find a job while you’re in college and get some experience in your career field, SIT DOWN.
  3. If you don’t have a resume, SIT DOWN.
  4. If you haven’t done a lot of interviewing for jobs, SIT DOWN.
  5. If you think you want to go to vet school or some other graduate or professional school, SIT DOWN.

If anyone is still standing, you can leave, because you don’t need to hear what I have to say.”

That last bit usually gets some laughs if some students in the audience are still standing—they don’t really leave.

The above activity is one active learning tool I use to begin a presentation providing an overview of Virginia Tech Career Services to a group. I’ve used this exercise for a number of different kinds of topics and audiences. This method is especially good to use if you’re addressing a group who has been sitting for a while. For example, I used this at a Career Services staff meeting when I was one of the later speakers on the agenda and we were talking about LinkedIn. Getting an audience to stand up for an activity like this gets them recharged and ready to listen to the rest of what you want to share.

There are all kinds of active learning tools to employ in classroom presentations or lectures or in meetings to engage participants and get them talking. With the short attention spans we encounter in university audiences, having a tool box of active learning methods is a must. Below are tools I learned a few years ago in a  university training program for faculty about active learning.


Active Learning Tool Box:

Think-Pair-Share: Begin with a response card (an index card) where you have each participant take a few minutes to write a response to a question. Then, have students pair up and discuss their responses. Finally, open up the discussion for the group to share ideas together. This activity is great for large lecture classes as well as smaller ones. I’ve used this in our career class to talk about the difference between a job vs. a career and work vs. Life’s work.

K-W-L: Create a sheet like the one below. In the K column, have the group write what they already KNOW about the topic, such as resume writing. Then in the W column have each student write what they WANT to know or questions they have about resume writing. Then at the end of the class students can write what they LEARNED. As an instructor or presenter if you collect the sheets, you get immediate feedback after your talk. However, I often let students keep their sheets because they end up taking notes on them. If the group has less than 30 members, I have class members introduce themselves and share something they wrote down that they KNOW or WANT to know. I love this tool because it:

  1. Makes the student do a knowledge dump in the KNOW column before you start talking.
  2. Allows the instructor to find out if something a student KNOWS is actually incorrect.
  3. Tailors discussion around questions students have with their WANT to know issues.
  4. Helps students who need time to reflect before they speak have a chance to gather their thoughts.


Entry/Exit Slips: The Entry Slip can pave the way for class discussion on a particular topic where the student turns in a written reply at the start of class. I’ve used this when we’ve had a visiting speaker where the Entry Slip was a requirement for them to write down 2 questions they had for the guest. The Exit Slip is a great way to obtain feedback from a class or group to check for understanding about a particular topic.


The Muddiest Point: A tool to check for understanding, the Muddiest Point gives an instructor immediate feedback about issues that are still unclear for students.


These are just a few of the tools I like to use as I speak to groups or run meetings. What tools do you use to engage your audiences? Let’s share!

Claire Childress, Senior Assistant Director, Career Services AuxiliaryClaire Childress, Virginia Tech Career Services Senior Assistant Director for Job Search and Graduate School Preparation, advises students and leads a team of advisors and a portfolio of services and programs. Prior to over 19 years at Virginia Tech, she worked in distance education and as an adjunct faculty member at New River Community College, as a healthcare marketer and as a banker. A former President of the Virginia Association of Colleges and Employers, Claire currently serves as SoACE Director of Professional Development. She writes regularly for her career advising blog,CareerChassé. Connect with Claire: LinkedIn.