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Creator of UNH Confessions looks at page as a resume booster

Staff Writer

Published: Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 00:10

He leans forward and scrolls through the Google document on the page in front of him as the bright screen of his laptop shines on his short, dark blonde hair. Usually relaxed and easygoing, he is now serious as he concentrates on what he’s reading. Suddenly, he begins to chuckle – gently at first, and then harder as he reaches the end of the submission. He quickly highlights the text and copies and pastes it into the status bar on Facebook. With the click of a button, the confession is posted and within seconds the “likes” are rolling in.    

“I just kind of determine if I think it would be good or not, if I think it would be interesting or funny, and then I just post it and hope that it does good,” Michael Barnard, creator of UNH Confessions, said.

With over 8,500 “likes” and almost 15,000 total submissions since the page was created in March, Barnard has made a UNH staple. Despite initial doubt from his friends, Barnard, who was a freshman at the time, stuck with his gut and was able to get the page up and running without the help of anyone else. The page that had so little faith behind it became an overnight sensation on campus and Barnard is reaping all of the benefits.

Although UNH Confessions is a great place for students to go for laughs, Barnard is using the page to advance himself in the business world.

The undeclared sophomore from Scituate, Mass., is currently trying to get into the Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics and knows that running this page will look good on his résumé when it comes time to apply for jobs and internships.

“I want to do something with social media and that’s what I’m doing right now,” Barnard said. “I’ve developed a passion for it.”

Barnard is also considering a career in online marketing and creating pages and websites for businesses. He thinks that being the creator and mediator of a page with such a large following while he’s still in college will look great to potential future employers. In the meantime, though, Barnard is already using the page’s popularity to his advantage as he uses it to sell products and bring in some extra cash.

With the help of a friend, Barnard made UNH Homecoming T-shirts with the design of the Budweiser logo, which he then advertised on his page. The duo brought in an easy $3,000 in profits. After seeing what a powerful marketing tool the page has become, Barnard is hoping to create and sell more T-shirts as the school year continues.

Looking to the future, Barnard is still determining what he’s going to do with the page, although he knows that he doesn’t want to pass it on once he graduates.

“I’m gonna try to, with the two years I have left at UNH, create a way that I can keep it so it can benefit this local area or UNH or something, but I would still be the manager of the page,” Barnard said.

A couple of ideas he currently has involve turning the page into a website or changing the name and giving the page a new focus. A bigger idea that Barnard has in mind, though, is to publish a book of the confessions and make it into a yearbook of his years here at UNH. Doing this would involve “just looking through and taking the best of the best and then it’d be kind of a cool read to have,” Barnard said.    Determining which are the best is easy for Barnard, seeing as he can quickly estimate how successful a post will be just by skimming through it. Some posts are definitely more popular than others, and Barnard’s favorite part of managing the page is watching posts go viral.

“There was a picture of a UNH student helping out at the Boston bombing and someone just sent it in and I put it up and was like, ‘Respect this wildcat,’” Barnard said. “Then it got like 500 ‘shares,’ 4,000 ‘likes’ overnight, and I think over 250,000 people saw the post. I would consider that kind of viral.”

Students especially like these posts, although many say that funny posts are their favorites. Junior Michaela Simpson said that she likes how amusing the page is and that she particularly enjoys reading the humorous posts in her free time. Junior Sydney Miller said that her favorite part of the page is that it’s relatable.

“A lot of the stories you can relate to,” Miller said. “We all go to UNH and tend to experience the same things around campus.”

Though sophomore Connor Bazil also enjoys the funnier posts, his favorite aspect of UNH Confessions is one that is essential to the page’s success.

“I like how people can anonymously say whatever they want,” Bazil said.

Although the posts that evoke laughter are very popular, ones expressing acts of kindness are well received, too. Barnard thinks that UNH students like to feel a sense of community and according to his friend, UNH student Evan Feldman, Barnard is no different.

Feldman recalled a time during his and Barnard’s freshman year when they, along with a few other friends, went to HoCo to grab a bite to eat. Upon settling in at a table, they began to wonder where Barnard was and what was taking him so long. After searching the dining hall for him, they found him eating with a girl they didn’t recognize and they decided to leave them alone. Feldman questioned him about it later that day.

“He simply told us he didn’t know her but he saw her sitting alone at a high-top table and she looked sad, so he decided to sit with her and talk to her,” Feldman said. “He is just a genuinely nice kid and he really leads by example by doing things like this.”

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