Social Media Strategist, Speaker and Student

At only 19 Tom Sharman is the kind of young and driven mind that is curious to explore the world and make the most out of life. I had the pleasure to meet him and interview him for our blog at Empowering Futures and he shares with us some insights on how to build a great career while he is still a University Student.

Laura: Who is Tom for Tom? How do you see yourself?

Tom: I’ve been in this the tech Industry for a little less than a year working as a Social Media Strategist and now, speaker. I’ve been lucky enough to work with some of the biggest and best events and brands including Social Media Week, Adtech, Glug, Online Influence, Royal Shakespeare Company and even the House of Lords. Oh, and I nearly forgot. I’m still a University Student.

I’d describe myself as someone who strives for success. I’ve always been like it. I’m a perfectionist. I remember the times when I was probably about 5 or 6 years old and I lined up my Hot Wheels cars in a perfectly straight line. Before you ask, I don’t do that anymore!

I see myself as hard-working, dedicated, creative and loving what I’m doing right now.

Laura: Tell us a bit about your background?

Tom: I’m a pretty regular guy. I grew up in a small town called King’s Lynn in Norfolk with a stable upbringing with my parents and brother. I’ve luckily been surrounded by my family and friends in the town my whole life and love going back to see them.

I only began to have any Interest in Media during the last year of my local Secondary School. I then went on to study Media studies at the sixth form. I soon realised I was pretty good at the practical stuff and having made a Music Video and Magazine at the Sixth form, I applied to attend Ravensbourne University in London. A place I’d been dreaming of moving too for years and got in!

Laura: What was your first work experience like?

Tom: On my 16th birthday, I got a job at my local Chip Shop, after about a year of that, I left and became a Sales associate at Currys PC World. This is where it definitely helped to shape me as a person. It taught me so much; how to interact and communicate with people, deal with pressures and sell. All of these skills I’ve taken forward into my career and are hugely valuable. I’d say to anyone to work as soon as they can. It’s important!

My first experience within the Industry however, was an absolute dream. I was luckily enough to work for Social Media Week, a leading industry news platform and global conference across 20 cities. I managed the Social Media, community and communication at Social Media Week London. Being in this position, it allowed me to meet and connect with Industry leaders from the likes of Google, Facebook, Twitter, VICE, Tumblr and many more. It was an invaluable experience and something I will be eternally grateful to the Executive director Gianfranco Chicco for giving me that opportunity.

Laura: Where do you get your confidence to do what you do at 19?

Tom: Social Media is something I grew up on from bebo selling ‘luv’ to kids, to building and building communities on my own YouTube gaming channel, to working with YouTube networks to scout ‘talent’ at just thirteen.

I get the confidence to do what I do because I like people and I know how to interact with people and build meaningful relationships. It’s not rocket science, but it does take a sense of humbleness and transparency. I’m very passionate about companies working with students and taking them seriously, so use myself as a case study to try and make a difference, regardless of my age.

I also hate these 40 or 50 year old ‘Social Media Gurus’ that claim to know everything within Social media and marketing. Nobody does, it evolves all the time!

Laura: What inspires you to keep moving forward?

Tom: The desire to want to learn as much as possible and experience life to the full inspires me to keep moving forward, creating opportunities for myself and my friends.

I’m hugely lucky to have a very supporting family, despite them literally having no idea what I actually do. They listen to the $%^£ I speak about that amazing talk I heard, or that exciting client I may be working with. Even if it’s meaningless to them, they know it means the world to me.

One thing I’m hugely passionate about is the power of mentors in someone’s life. Throughout every key stage of growing up to where I am now, I’ve found people I consider mentors to help inspire me and bring out the most in myself. Back in school, it was my media teacher Gavin Mckenzie, at University it is my course leader James Morris who lets me take time off to take these opportunities. And the biggest inspiration in my career is the guy who kickstarted it, Gianfranco Chicco at Social Media Week.

Laura: What would you advice to other University Students to boost their career like yours?

Tom: I’m hugely passionate about this topic. I’ve actually recently been talking to some students at my old school looking to get into the creative industries. I’ll give the same advice I gave to them, find something you care about, love it and work on that. This industry is too harsh and fast paced for people who don’t love it or give a half-arsed go at things.

A tip to any student looking to getting started is to get on Twitter, get on LinkedIn and create or curate content… whatever. Whether it’s you staying up until 2am writing that article, or you’re up on a Sunday spending 5 hours scheduling other people’s content that your community would value from, like I am.

Being a student whilst working in Industry is probably the easiest. Use that to your advantage. I guarantee that the CEO of that business you love will look at your .ac.uk email address and catchy email subject and at least consider you. There’s a huge sense of humbleness with students. Something which can be rare in this industry. Most people want to make money fast, but it is about building valuable and meaningful relationships

Determination, drive and going the extra mile while still a University Student is surely opening the doors for Tom. At Empowering Futures we are very happy to promote him as a young talent and role model for other students in our programme working with Entrepreneurs, getting real work experience and empowering their futures with the actions they take today. 

Find out more about Tom by visiting his website http://tomsharman.com

Laura Vanessa Munoz, Founder and Programme Director, Empowering Futures.

Connect – Collaborate – Empower

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