Alumnus Brian Peters Forges a Career in Social Media
After graduating with his degree in communication studies in 2012, Brian Peters took a position as an account executive with an insurance company. Then he worked as the Digital Marketing and Social Media Manager for Cal Poly. Today, Peters is a social media manager at Buffer, a social media management and scheduling company. His post-grad path demonstrates how versatile communication studies skills are and how integral they are in any industry.
1. What initially attracted you to the Communication Studies Department at Cal Poly?
[Communication Studies may not be] considered as “technical” as other majors, but it set me up to succeed in a variety of careers. Communication skills are handy to have no matter what career path someone takes.
2. Did any courses in particular influence your career choice?
As many communication studies students will tell you, we all love to talk. So I really enjoyed classes like Argument and Debate with Professor Skiles and Performance of Literature with Dr. Blau. They prepared me for a successful two-year stint in sales before my current position and have helped me tremendously with social media and marketing. The one course, though, that I always think back to is Persuasion with Dr. Besel. I didn’t realize it at the time, but so many of the persuasion techniques I learned in that class have helped me in my career.
3. Were you always interested in social media marketing?
I’ve always been interested in social media personally, but I didn’t realize how powerful of a tool it was for businesses until I began to manage Cal Poly’s accounts and now as the social media manager at Buffer. It’s fun to watch an audience grow and engage on a daily basis. Like the rest of us, I think I am on social media too much!
What was your post-grad path?
Based on my major, I knew I wanted to be in sales or marketing after college. I had been working as an intern for a local insurance company during my senior year, and I was lucky enough to be offered a full-time account executive position upon graduation. After two years of doing that, it was time for a change of pace. Marketing and social media have turned out to be a really enjoyable field, and so I plan on sticking to this for the foreseeable future – but you never know what new opportunities may come along.
4. What is one of the most valuable lessons you learned with your degree?
By far the most valuable lesson that I learned from communication studies and have personally experienced in my career so far is that interpersonal skills mean a lot in the workforce. In my opinion, they are as important as technical skills in career success. I use many of the interpersonal lessons that I learned at Cal Poly every day.
5. What communication studies principles do you find yourself applying in your job?
I find myself applying all sorts of communication studies principles quite often. In larger organizations, you are constantly required to work together as groups to complete projects. Learning how to effectively manage group communication is extremely helpful. Persuasion techniques have been immensely helpful when it comes to pitching ideas, presenting to executives and closing deals. Even principles that I learned in Dr. Duffy’s Classical Rhetorical Theory class have been useful when understanding arguments and differing points of view in the workplace.
6. What is one of the hardest parts of your job?
One of the hardest parts of social media and marketing is constantly coming up with new and exciting content. There’s so much great (and not so great) content online today that it’s really tough to cut through the clutter. I do have the advantage, however, of San Luis Obispo being one of the most beautiful places on earth, so that helps a ton with creativity and photography.
What is your favorite part of your job?
One of my favorite parts of the job is when one of our social media audience members writes to us and tells us that we’re doing a good job and to keep it up. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does it makes the job totally worth it. We love feedback on our posts, whether it’s good or bad.