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5 Millennial Jobs That Parents Just Don't Understand

What on earth is a social media influencer, anyway?
Image: Young businessman
Young man talking on phone in office.StockRocket / Getty Images

Got any millennials in your friend or family circles? Chances are at least one of them holds a job title that makes little or no sense to you, or maybe doesn't quite sound like a "real job."

Here's a list of some of the most popular jobs held by millennials that parents just don't understand — and some insights on what they entail and why they're important.

Image: Young businessman
Young man talking on phone in office.StockRocket / Getty Images

Social Media Manager

The role of a social media manager is to curate, manage, and grow a brand's social presence. This could mean a variety of things including creating content, strategizing ad campaigns, managing partnerships with other brands, and interacting with customers.

"As a social media manager, you’re the voice of a brand and serve as the front line for more than marketing or pushing out promotional messages," said Darryl Villacorta, a 34-year-old social media manager at Sprout Social. "You're handling customer service, crisis management, community-building and content creation. Depending on your team, you might also be responsible for aspects of strategy, social advertising, lead generation and more."

And if you're mad at a company and decide to tweet angrily at them, it's the social media manager who is probably feeling the heat.

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"When something goes wrong for a brand, consumer frustration is often vented on social media," said Villacorta. "Sometimes it's easy to forget that social media managers are just the messenger and at the end of the day, we're human too."

Content Marketer

"I told my parents my job title and they said, 'Huh? What's that?'" 31-year-old Shayla Price told NBC News. "The natural thing is for people to think I market content; however, that's not the case." Price, a B2B content marketer who works with a number of companies says that her role requires not only the writing of, but the promoting of digital company content including blog posts and videos.

"It involves learning about customers and researching topics that would attract people to visit brand websites. It's important because content helps businesses engage with customers leading to more sales," Price said.

Content marketers also need to be savvy in search engine optimization. This means they have to understand and aptly use the key words that will drive up a business's ranking in an online search.

"Content marketers are the people who create the content that helps drive things like SEO and leads," said Liz Wessel, CEO of millennial HR/recruiting platform WayUp. "In fact, there are entire businesses that have helped to create this profession, like Hubspot."

Community Manager

A community manager may be technically different than a social media manager, but often the jobs overlap.

"As a community manager, you are focused on connecting and communicating constantly with your target audience, and understanding how to empathize with them in order to forge stronger bonds with the larger community that's being served," said Alex Lirtsman, founding partner and chief strategist at Ready Set Rocket. "If your audience is younger millennials, resonating with them without being a part of their demographic is a real challenge. To do so well and at scale is a keen attribute of a younger, driven, always-on generation that can connect and resonate with thousands of users a day."

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In her role as director of social & community manager at Rooster Teeth, 28-year-old Barbara Dunkelman is responsible for keeping the entertainment brand's audience in the loop regarding everything the company puts forth. This includes "the content we’re working on, events we’re holding or attending, and giving them a behind-the-scenes look at what we do day-to-day," said Dunkleman adding that the job is "a dream because our audience is so large and passionate, but it’s also a huge responsibility to continue to keep them informed and engaged every day."

Digital Influencer/Social Media Influencer

"'You make a living doing Instagram?' is the comment I hear most often from older people," said 23-year-old social media influencer Sage Goldnik.

"They don’t understand the concept of monetizing an audience nor the work that is involved in each influencer’s post. They post themselves, [and] like and comment on their friends’ content. So, getting them to understand that I do it at a whole different level as a full-time job is not something they’ve come across before."

And a full-time job it most certainly is. Goldnik says he works upwards of 50 hours a week with the focus of being a "trendsetter," and of discovering fresh looks and brands to introduce to his audience. His day-to-day job entails creating photo and video content for his own blog and social media platforms, as well as for those run by brands.

"I spend a massive amount of time on Instagram, engaging with my current and potential audience, sourcing brands I want to work with, and getting inspiration for content from others. I travel a lot for both paid and unpaid content, so that my feed is always visually interesting," said Goldnik.

Mobile App Developer

A mobile app developer is the person (or team) who designs and builds mobile apps. This is a fairly complicated tech job that requires a nuanced understanding of mobile architecture and coding.

Ed Lafoy, 29, mobile practice lead at Table XI, says much of his time is devoted to building software and helping others learn.

"We really push hard on the knowledge sharing here — both with paired programming, as well as setting aside time to share cool tools or other miscellaneous things worth sharing. We tend to experiment a lot both with new technologies, and with entirely new concepts altogether."

Lafoy is happy to report that despite the generational gap, his parents have always been supportive of his work.

I've been impressed with their level of curiosity, and even more impressed with the level of understanding when it comes to computer stuff in conversation [with my parents]," said Lafoy, adding: "But I still get occasional IT calls when they need help."