Tweeting from the classroom to a career: Allie Burrow's path to a social media powerhouse
By Chance Harbour
MANHATTAN BEACH, CALIFORNIA – When Allie Burrow first came to Georgia Southern University in 2006, social media was in its infancy. Facebook had just opened membership to anyone and introduced news feeds. Snapchat and Instagram were nothing but pipe dreams. Myspace was still the most popular social networking site in the country. More than a decade later, however, the public relations graduate now works for Twitter, in a time where social media is a part of our everyday, and often every 15-minute, lives.
Burrow, as an account manager for Twitter, promotes media and entertainment clients’ creative ideas. She works with clients such as Paramount, AMC and the NFL, and spreads their brand to more than 300 million monthly users on the platform.
Before working at one of the most influential companies of the modern era, Burrow began her academic journey at Georgia Southern, graduating in 2009 with a Bachelor of Science degree in public relations, at a time when social media started taking the world by storm. She said she’s glad that the Communication Arts Department has moved with the times and started offering courses that focus on and utilize social media.
A decade ago, however, social media wasn’t yet a vital part of the curriculum. In fact, one of Burrow’s favorite memories from her time in school was when Twitter was in its early days. Her professor at the time, Barbara Nixon, Ph.D., introduced the platform to the class and even made it part of a homework assignment. Burrow recalled having to follow and engage with seven users and set up a bio as homework.
Something that was a homework assignment a decade ago has now blossomed into her career.
Burrow began using Twitter frequently for class assignments because it was required, and as she learned more and more about the platform, she began using it for networking purposes. As Twitter became more popular, it helped her connect with people both inside and outside of her industry.
So, how did Burrow go from learning about Twitter in class to becoming an account manager for one of today’s most prominent companies.
For Burrow, choosing public relations was a no-brainer. She loved planning events and parties and getting people together, and when social media sparked a shift to shorter blurbs of information, as compared to lengthy press releases, she was relieved there wouldn’t be quite as much writing.
While Burrow was studying PR, she became a member of the Public Relations Student Society of America chapter at Georgia Southern, which she felt helped her with networking and making friends. She had to rely on the networking experience provided by PRSSA because while social media platforms like Twitter were around, they weren’t as widespread and used as much as they are today.
Burrow also became a member of the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority at Georgia Southern, which opened new doors for her. With the help of one of her sorority sisters, Burrow was able to secure an internship at the Georgia Aquarium.
After her internship, Burrow worked a few other public relations and social media engagement positions. Working at Twitter was always a goal of hers, but Burrow felt that it was unattainable as long as she lived in Georgia, so she moved to Los Angeles, California.
Upon moving, Burrow started working in the field of advertising. She also began networking and meeting the right people. Once her ideal position with Twitter opened up, Burrow reached out to friends at the company, and she was able to get an interview, and ultimately land the job, in June of 2017.
For Burrow, Pamela Bourland-Davis, current chair of the Communication Arts Department, was an essential part of her success at Georgia Southern. Bourland-Davis was an advisor to Burrow, but Allie also worked for her as an intern in the department during the spring semester of 2009. Burrow even helped set up Bourland-Davis’ Facebook and Twitter accounts.
“I don’t know if I helped her or she helped me more,” Bourland-Davis said. “She was great, and she’s a lot of fun to work with. We’re just really proud of all that she’s doing.”
Although it wasn’t a permanent home, in 2009, the Communication Arts Department was located in Veazey Hall, where Burrow took classes and worked in an office with Bourland-Davis.
To this day, Bourland-Davis follows Burrow on Twitter and keeps up with what she’s doing.
Michelle Groover, a public relations professor in the department, was another one of Burrow’s keys to success.
Groover taught some of the courses Burrow took just before she graduated and now teaches courses that center around social media, such as “Social Media & Public Relations” and “Public Relations Campaigns.”
Groover keeps up with Burrow, and when she saw that she was working for Twitter, she saw a great opportunity to have someone in the field speak to a class of students who may have social media career aspirations.
Last year, Burrow spoke to Groover’s “Social Media & Public Relations” class and explained what she does now as an account manager for Twitter, as well as how to use Twitter to your advantage, such as for finding a job and creating a personal brand, no matter what stage of life you’re in.
“I try to follow many of our public relations alumni on social media, and I have followed Allie’s career path,” Groover said. “It’s great to watch our alumni succeed in the field they have a passion for.”
Experiment, experience, and excitement. Those are the things that Burrow recommends for anyone who aspires to work in social media positions. She said that people should break barriers and use social media to experiment with new things, be prepared to intern and gain diverse experience, and be excited to learn about and work in an ever-changing industry.
“Every day is different, and I think that’s what I love about what I do,” Burrow said.