CNBC’s “College Voice 2020” is a series written by CNBC Summer interns from universities across the country, about starting new careers and job hunting during a global epidemic. They are finding their voice and hoping for a better future during times of great social change. What money issues are they facing? How are they navigating their student loans? How are they getting work experience, networking and applications for jobs when so many opportunities have been canceled or postponed? How important is diversity and company values to Gen Z job seekers?
Kovid-19 has shaken the economy in ways that this world has never seen. Many people have found their lives upside down, including students. I know that many students are finding themselves in challenging situations right now. Many are stuck at home, have lost a summer internship or cannot find a job. However, even though the path ahead is not yet clear, it is important to remember that there is always something you can do to advance yourself – even when you are stuck at home!
Jennifer Frick, a career consultant at the Center for Career and Professional Development at Carnegie Mellon University, suggests using it as an opportunity for students to focus on their professional development. There are many ways for students to go about this. Can the student:
- Do remote research or coursework to further your studies. A good resource for this is LinkedIn Learning.
- Write a blog on a topic you are passionate about – so you become an expert yourself, rather than waiting for someone to give you a chance to become an expert.
- Start a YouTube channel on something that you find interesting or enjoyable.
- Contribute free articles for online publication.
- Network in online forums for topics you are passionate about.
For me, Election was a YouTube channel. I decided when I was a sophomore in high school to make my way – and should not wait to hand over something to me in college or beyond.
Where to start
I have always been fascinated by consumer technology. Ever since I was a little kid, whenever a new phone or tablet was released, I would get very excited, and I could do anything when I had time to interact with them. So the idea of starting a YouTube channel where I got to explore all the latest methods of consumer technology and review it for others to see and know came naturally to me. Especially after seeing other fellow tech enthusiasts such as Marquis Brownlee and Unbox Therapy get so much success on stage.
Catalyst was a new printer that I received as a holiday that year. I felt that this would be the perfect time to start a YouTube channel where I could talk about printers and other future technology. So I picked up my phone, sat on my bedroom floor, and went through the unboxing and setup of this Brother MFC-J450DW printer. You can definitely tell that I was a newbie!
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But the more I worked on it, the better I got at making my videos. I saved money from various small jobs and birthday gifts and bought new technology to unbox myself for the channel. I have started to become more and more interested in the production aspect of making these videos, and will challenge myself to make each new video look better and more engaging than the last. I watched hours of YouTube tutorials on lighting, sound, editing, and storytelling to try to continually improve on my craft. This not only allowed me to improve my videos, but it also allowed me to build valuable expertise and experience in the process.
At the same time I improved my production skills, I also improved my SEO (search engine optimization) capabilities. I will constantly study the analyzes that YouTube has provided me with on my audience. I found out that most of the people watching my videos were between 20 and 34 years old, so I started looking for products and video ideas that suited demographic interests. As I did so, I noticed that my organic traffic has started to grow with YouTube recommendations. I continued to refine and optimize my videos to get as much organic traffic as possible.
Finally I knew I was after something when I made an unboxing video of the iPhone 7 that was viewed 100,000 times in the first month when it was live! I kept creating more and more content over time, and I was fortunate that some videos performed really well on YouTube’s platform. I was super excited last summer when, 5 years after I started the channel, I hit the 10,000 subscriber milestone.
Not only am I doing something I love, but my YouTube channel has served as a kind of living portfolio of my work, and has been a big factor in my coming to university of dreams, an amazing Landing the first internship, and getting my first video client when I started my own production company, Boxer Video Productions.
My YouTube channel also served as a passive income that allowed me to focus on my studies and other hobbies like music, without worrying so much about getting work to fund the channel. After years of creating YouTube advertising revenue, sponsorships and Amazon affiliate links, my channel now draws around $ 15,000 per year which I use to cover the cost of the products I review in the video as well I also reinvest in the construction of an arsenal. Film gear that I use to make even more videos for the channel and for my company’s clients.
The mechanics behind starting something like this was quite simple and is really a repeatable process for any beginner YouTuber. I usually
- Discovered what I was passionate about and wanted to create content around new technology.
- Set up accounts with YouTube, Amazon Affiliates and AdSense.
- Ordered an inexpensive tripod that I start making videos from my phone (this is good for beginners).
- Learned how to edit iMovie (a free piece of editing software with Mac) through the plethora of free tutorials available on YouTube.
- Shared new videos with my friends and family to get in some opening scenes, which helped the algorithm take my videos and share with a larger audience.
- The products I talked about gave Amazon affiliate links to those products, which would fund future videos to generate some income.
It wasn’t until I became comfortable with this initial setup that I slowly bought more professional film gear and experimented with different editing techniques. It was a process that took time, perseverance and dedication. It did not happen overnight.
That’s not all: “You should start a channel like I did.” What I am saying is that you should not wait to give someone a chance. And there is no age limit when you can start! Do not overthrow it. Find something that interests you and jump into it. If it doesn’t work or you don’t like it – you can stop anytime. It is valuable in itself to try new things and learn in the process. Whatever it is that you decide to do, you never know where it will take you in the future! At the very least, you have some experience for your resume that you can talk about in a job interview. And it shows that you have initiative. Which will make you stand out from other candidates – and it can give you a great job.
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Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures have investors Chestnut.