SFA marketing majors Tori Thurman and Holli Harrison

Stephen F. Austin State University marketing majors Tori Thurman and Holli Harrison receive real-world experience as they serve as social media interns for the Nelson Rusche College of Business. Their responsibilities include updating the college's Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

NACOGDOCHES, Texas - With their smartphones in hand, marketing majors Holli Harrison and Tori Thurman are busy at work promoting Stephen F. Austin State University's Nelson Rusche College of Business on social media. A status update on Facebook, a tweet on Twitter and a post on Instagram help spread the news of upcoming events, accomplishments and fun facts within the college.

Since August, Harrison and Thurman have been social media interns for the Rusche College of Business. The interns work under the direction of Chelsea Heidbrink, adviser in the college, and Dr. Charlotte Allen, professor of management, marketing and international business.

"It's really amazing for us to utilize our own student talent for this," Heidbrink said. "Social media use and marketing has grown tremendously over the past two years in this college. This opportunity not only gives our students real-world experience with real-work expectations, but it also gives our college the student edge we need to make our social media and marketing plans more dynamic as we appeal to current and prospective students."

Harrison and Thurman meet every Monday to plan their weekly posts and discuss upcoming events.

"I think our job is important because we see situations from a student's perspective, and it is better to connect with students through social media," Harrison said.

Harrison and Thurman have taken several classes together and have realized they make a great team. Both agree their classes at SFA have helped prepare them for this internship.

"A lot of our classes are hands-on with a lot of group projects," Thurman said. "The professors want us to succeed, and I think that's why SFA business students do so well when they graduate."

Harrison agrees the professors are integral to student success.

"They are not just professors; they are industry professionals who have worked in the field. They have lived it and can prepare us for things a book can't," Harrison said.

The rapidly changing technology also has prepared the students for their fast-paced work.

"We grew up when social media was getting more and more popular. Right now, it is at a high point and still steadily gaining popularity," Harrison said. "Technology changed so much and it taught us that business changes a lot, life changes a lot, and you have to keep up."

As part of their training, the two reviewed previous posts on the college's social media sites to understand the tone of the accounts.

"We try to keep the content as interesting as possible. We want to stay consistent with our tone and style because we are trying to portray a certain reputation and culture for the Rusche College of Business," Thurman said.

Through this process, Harrison and Thurman have noticed a difference between professional and personal use of social media.

"You need to think about what kind of perception you want people to have of you. As far as personal social media goes, it is more relaxed, but you don't want to post something that could possibly taint people's perceptions of you," Thurman said.

Harrison commented on the professional side of running social media accounts.

"If you are working for a company and doing its social media, you are promoting a brand. You need to keep posts appropriate and more business like," Harrison said.

Harrison plans to graduate in summer 2016. She hopes to work in the business industry with social media and marketing.

"This internship has helped me learn the basics and hone my skills," Harrison said.

Likewise, Thurman is set to graduate in May 2016. She plans to attend Liberty University and earn her master's degree in international business.

"My goal is to work for a non-profit organization, specifically with children, and to hopefully do social media for them," Thurman said.

Both are taking 12 credit hours and are involved with additional organizations on and off campus.