Sarah Cuervo had been accepted into her dream internship at Victoria’s Secret Pink for this summer, but like many college students, her internship was canceled due to COVID-19.
Cuervo, a 20-year-old UF advertising junior, then turned to TikTok, a social media platform owned by a Beijing-based company Byte Dance, and created fashion, college and internship advice videos. In mid-May, Cuervo posted a video giving advice on “best student campus ambassador programs,” which quickly went viral, and led to her success on the app. With over 55 thousand followers, Cuervo is grateful for the exposure the platform has given her, but frustrated with the idea of President Trump potentially banning the app in the U.S.
On Friday, President Trump told reporters he plans to ban TikTok, and chaos shortly followed within the TikTok community. Now, Trump has given Microsoft until September 15 to negotiate a purchase deal with TikTok.
If you’re not on the app, it’s easy to assume it’s primarily filled with videos of teenagers dancing to pop music. However, that’s not exactly the case. Throughout TikTok’s success, niches have been formed within the community that depart from the typical dance videos. Now there are different communities for food, skincare, college advice and more.
Cuervo dreams of being a full-time influencer and she feels that TikTok has been a silver lining for her as it has allowed her to not only gain an audience in roughly three months but has also given her the chance to work brand deals with clothing companies like Princess Polly and SecChic.
“I feel like my voice is heard, and I can use it for something positive,” Cuervo said. “Because I know that some people are given platforms and they don’t use it wisely, and I’m just happy that I’ve been able, however big or small, to have one.”
Unsure of what’s to come in the following weeks, Cuervo has saved all her videos onto a flash drive and is prepared to continue her advice videos on Instagram, where she’s gained over three thousand followers because of TikTok.
Basel Hussein, a 20-year-old UF architecture junior, started making TikTok videos in his freshman dorm. What he describes as “stupid ramblings,” his videos have gained him an audience of over 80 thousand followers on the app.
“I was never someone who became that invested in it,” Hussein said. “ I’m in school for architecture, I’m not going to be an influencer. So I was like, “Why not have fun?”
Although he found his niche, he’s not too distraught about losing his platform there. Hussein did point out that he was upset for younger generations, like his 12-year-old cousin, who has been able to use the app to learn more about the Black Lives Matter movement and other topics surrounding activism, he said.
“I think most people that are like 12- and 13-years-old probably didn’t know [about the Black Lives Matter movement] other than what they got from their family,” Hussein said. “ So having this platform for younger people was so informative in a way that was also entertaining and engaging, and it sucks for them to lose a bit.”