Gone are the days when kids aspired to be doctors, teachers or nurses. Now, to parents' horror, becoming a gamer or social media influencer is where it's at.
And if you didn't think they were viable career options, think again. You can now even apply for an internship as a social media influencer.
Yes, you read that right. The New Zealand branch of global camera phone brand OPPO has posted an ad offering Kiwi hopefuls the chance to apply for an internship as a social media influencer.
It's a paid three-month gig, and the role would involve being "flown around New Zealand and Australia to the most Instagrammable locations to capture content for both your own and OPPO's social media profiles.
"The work perks don't stop at all-expenses-paid trips," its ad continues. "The successful applicant will be mentored by OPPO's digital marketing team and existing roster of ambassadors including Nicole Millar, Milly Bannister, Libby Kay and KOTravellers."
OPPO New Zealand's managing director Kevin Cho explains, "As a Smartphone maker we know too well that there's a growing army of people buying our devices for the sole purpose of capturing and sharing content. Many of these content creators aspire to growing their channels and ultimately creating a viable income stream and career path.
"We can see that in the not so distant future we will employ and train full time influencers, in much the same way you would any employee. So, to kick it off, we've created a paid influencer internship."
The company did a study and found that 79 per cent of Gen Zers would take a full-time job as an influencer if given the opportunity. A third had tried to build up their Instagram following and one in five had actively researched tips on how to become an influencer.
Since the ad went up - which you can view here - more than 100 applications have flooded in. Its marketing team say they've been "inundated". Applications are open until December 15.
There are a few names in New Zealand that have carved out careers for themselves as social media influencers - Shannon Harris, Matilda Rice, Jess Quinn, Hannah Laity and Sam Levi among them.
Beauty vlogger Shannon Harris has arguably been the most successful. With an online community following of 8.5 million (and counting) Shannon was named by Forbes as one of 2017's top global beauty influencers (she came in at number five), and she's sought after by international marketeers as one of the key faces in the 'new generation' of online influencers.
As reported in NEXT magazine, influencers like Shannon "have become important to the business of beauty because of their unique ability to introduce new customers to brands through their massive online networks. The power of their digital footprints is huge – just one endorsement on Shaaanxo can see a particular product sell out within hours of the episode going live."
Such influence has meant that Shannon can command hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertising revenue and sponsorship for both Shaaanxo and her personal channel, Shannon Vlogs, in which she shares anecdotes (especially about her two dogs, Lewie and Zeus) from her daily life.
Matilda Rice opened up about her role to NEXT magazine earlier this year, and said she was the first to admit that many struggle to understand exactly what it is that she does - including her family.
She told NEXT, "If people ask, I say I run my social media and blog full-time. I can always see the look on their faces. It's like 'Oh, okay, so not a real job then…'"
But the 27-year-old, who goes by the Instagram handle Matootles, has become something of a poster girl for the 'slashie' generation of people working multiple roles on their own terms while embracing the latest resources at their fingertips.
Matilda has become known as the 'face' of several major brands, including Maybelline and Ford; has published a book; gets asked to appear at glitzy events and travel to exotic locations.
"I've made a lot of mistakes," she admitted. "At first I thought all my Christmases had come at once – someone wants to pay me X amount just to post on Instagram, how good is that? But I've realised I need to take it seriously. If I'm in a position where people trust me and like what I do, I owe it to them to keep my personal life real."
Being an 'influencer', a term she shudders at ("It comes across as a bit wanky"), does weigh heavily on the girl who dropped out of high school to work as a receptionist at TV company Mediaworks.
"At the start, I had the mindset that I didn't ask people to follow me; and who says just because you've got a lot of followers on Instagram, you have to be a perfect role model?" says Matilda, who never coveted fame as a kid.
"But I've realised there are so many young women watching – and they're impressionable and they take everything as gospel on social media."
According to Forbes, becoming a successful social media influencer is not so much about crafting the perfect post as it is about being able to provide a constant stream of content, know the value of engaging individually with followers, and have the acceptance and acknowledgement of industry experts and peers.
Having a good instinct for timing, and persistence are also key. Do you have what it takes?
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