Editor’s Note: During the YouToo Social Media Conference on April 10 at Kent State University, Ben Brugler and Ryan Collins challenged the student attendees: send us your best recaps for a takeover of our Microbrew blog, typically reserved for AKHIA interns. University of Akron Sophomore Samantha Hickey, a Communication major, is featured on Day 2 of the takeover.

Fourteen of us Converged Media Immersion students ventured across the MAC conference to Kent State this week to attend the eighth annual YouToo Social Media Conference. It was one of the most educational and gratifying activities I’ve experienced in my two-year collegiate career.

Even though there wasn’t a pronounced theme, I noticed an underlying message: honesty. We began our day listening to Mark W. Smith, The Washington Post’s editor for mobile web, speak about social media strategies. Mr. Smith listed a handful of genuine tips that we as social media students and professionals should take into consideration every time we want to post something to the public.

Photo by Samantha Hickey

“Social media is declarative, and comprehensive, and it delivers on its promises. Good social gives away the ending,” and “Everything I said today will be a lie in six months,” were Mr. Smith’s two pieces of advice that stuck with me. The truth is, the speed of social is so quick that students and professionals must stay on our toes to continue creating great content.

As the day went on, the advice didn’t stop. Gini Dietrich, CEO of Arment Dietrich gave a memorable introduction to her presentation, using Miley Cyrus as an example of a PR mastermind.

Photo by Samantha Hickey

She explained how skillful Miley’s PR team is considering her transition from Hannah Montana to the Miley we know today. Ms. Dietrich incorporated her book, Spin Sucks, into the keynote and reminded us it is up to us to be honest PR professionals and not participate in tactics such as astroturfing, whisper campaigns, and media manipulation.

Near the day’s end, we headed over to speak with Ben Brugler and Ryan Collins, respectively President and Social Media Program Manager at AKHIA.

This last session was a personal favorite of mine for the real-life advice they provided us with. It’s not often someone of your desired profession sits down with you and gives you advice for interviews and specific traits that employers look for in interviewees. Mr. Brugler suggested one of the best things students looking to go into this profession can do is: be honest and be ourselves.

Photo by Samantha Hickey

Mr. Brugler’s and Mr. Collins’ advice hit home for me. It’s become expected to fit a set of required guidelines, and I believe that trying to fit those guidelines often chips away at our true personalities. That session gave me hope there are employers looking for rays of sunshine and not someone who can fit a preconceived notion. It’s OK to be positive!

All of the speakers gave their all to benefit those attending, and I am quite thankful for that. YouToo 2015 was tremendous and honest, so mark your calendars for Friday, April 8, 2016. I can’t wait to see what YouToo 2016 has in store for us!