July 7, 2024

Laney Goff

Social Sesh: 4 Lessons from Past Jobs That Shaped My Social Media Career

social media career

Looking back at my job history, I can't help but laugh. How did I go from taking pizza orders and building bears for kids to building brands on social media? Each job taught me invaluable lessons that have shaped my career. Here's how each gig contributed to my growth and success in the digital world.

How My Past Employment Experiences Prepared Me for My Role at #Strella Social Media

Lesson 1: Active Listening from Taking Pizza Orders

At 16, I got my first job, taking phone orders at Papa John's Pizza. (Yes, back then you actually had to call to order pizza!) My friend's dad owned the franchise, and I thought it would be a blast working with friends, eating free pizza, and making some cash. Little did I know I'd be dealing with customers non-stop. Imagine a teenager on the other end of the line, trying to decipher rapid-fire pizza orders while customers impatiently waited. As much as I dreaded those calls, the job taught me effective communication and active listening. It’s amazing how much these skills translate to social media, where understanding and responding to your audience’s needs is everything.

Lesson 2: Creating Memorable Experiences at Build-a-Bear Workshop

After Papa John’s, I decided to step into a different role—at Build-a-Bear Workshop. If you've ever been to a Build-a-Bear, you know it's a magical place for kids. But for the employees? It was like hosting a never-ending children's party. I won't sugarcoat it—I hated it. Being upbeat and entertaining all day was exhausting. However, seeing kids light up as they made their stuffed animals taught me the importance of creating memorable experiences. One little girl came in every Saturday with her grandma, and together they built a new bear each week, complete with a heart ceremony and all. The joy and connection they shared stuck with me. In social media, engaging and memorable content is key. Attention to detail, understanding what your audience wants, and adding personal touches make all the difference.

Lesson 3: Handling Challenges with Grace as an Insurance Rep

Post-college, I landed a job as a customer service rep for an insurance company. This role lasted nine years and was all about solving problems and handling complaints calmly. Imagine getting calls from clients who just had their cars totaled or their houses flooded and are looking to you for answers. Those experiences honed my problem-solving skills and patience—both are essential when managing social media crises or dealing with difficult clients.

That job also taught me accountability. Early in my career, I made a $25,000 mistake on a homeowners policy by not noting that the home was vacant. When the claim was denied, I had no choice but to own up to my mistake. Picture me, heart pounding, explaining to my boss how a $25,000 claim had been denied due to my error. The agency covered the claim and got me the training I needed. A year later, I became our department's expert on vacant home policies. My experience at the insurance company taught me to take responsibility and never overlook details.

Lesson 4: Building a Community as an Online English Teacher

Once I had my second child, I needed a job that allowed me to be home with my kids during the day and focus on motherhood while earning an income. Enter VIPKid, where I became an online English teacher. This job was a lifesaver. It allowed me to work from home and spend time with my kids. At the time, other online teachers were extremely active on Instagram and had built an entire community on the platform where they connected and shared their experiences.

I decided to join in and created an Instagram account focused on my online teaching. I started to gain a sizeable following and before I knew it, I was getting invited to be on podcasts and landing brand deals. I was even showcased on VIPKid's social media accounts. People started coming to me, asking how I was able to see so much success on social media.

It was then that my social media consulting career began. I started coaching online teachers how to position themselves on social media to gain more exposure, opportunities, and income. It felt surreal to go from piecing together side jobs to being sought after for my social media expertise.


Every job I’ve had, no matter how unrelated it seemed, has helped me excel in social media management. From active listening at Papa John's to creating memorable experiences at Build-a-Bear and handling challenges with grace as an insurance rep to building a community as an online teacher, each role taught me invaluable lessons. If you’re stuck in a job that doesn’t seem to fit your career goals, take heart. The skills you’re learning today might shape your success tomorrow. What unexpected skills have helped to shape your career path? 

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2 comments on “Social Sesh: 4 Lessons from Past Jobs That Shaped My Social Media Career”

  1. Hi Laney,
    Mine was as a graphic artist. It helped me to sell ads years ago and then starting my business it helped me to create better graphics with Canva for blogging and social media posts. It's been quite a ride!

    1. Thanks for sharing! You're absolutely right—good graphic design is often underestimated but it's crucial in so many job roles! - Laney

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