Even with all the good that the internet, smart phones and social media have brought to our lives, I’m glad that, as a college student, I didn’t have to worry about someone posting an embarrassing picture of me or that my words written in anger will forever haunt me. College was complicated enough and looking for a job was stressful enough.
I’m going to admit right now that I’m not a social media guru. I am a heavy user of Facebook, have an Instagram account that features my two cats and created a Twitter account for the sole purpose of receiving instant updates on the location of certain bird species during the Biggest Week in American Birding festival. Most of the advice in this post will probably be common sense, or at least I hope.
- Pictures. The general rule here is don’t post anything you wouldn’t want an older relative or your future child(ren) to see. Don’t let anyone tag you in a picture without you allowing it first (for Facebook: Settings –> Timeline and Tagging). Don’t seem like a total narcissist and post nothing but selfies. Don’t be like the idiot who posted pictures of herself vandalizing the natural features of several national parks and post pictures of yourself doing something illegal. Do post interesting pictures that your friends and followers will respond to and enjoy.
- Posts. Keep it positive and do not post while experiencing extreme emotions. Stay away from using profanity and making generalizations about people groups. Do not use your feed to blast a particular person (especially a professor, boss, or co-worker) or business. About a year after I got married, I tore apart our photographer on The Knot because he still had not returned our photos. I never saw him or our pictures again.
- Likes. Don’t forget about activity logs and the fact that sometimes your friends will see a post on their newsfeed titled “Ally liked this…” I know plenty of boyfriends who got themselves in trouble for liking some sexy picture. All the pages you like are on your profile. I creeped on yours today and was appalled to find out you like the Pittsburgh Steelers. 🙂
- Check-ins and Events. This post is mostly written to help you save face and with your future job-seeking self in mind (it’s probably wise to delete any sketchy past events like “Johnny’s Keg Bash” or previous check-ins like “Hooters”), but you also need to keep safety in mind. If you don’t want someone to know exactly where you are at an exact moment, don’t check-in to specific places or say you’re attending location specific public events. Also remember that when you announce where you’ll be or where you are, you’re also saying where you won’t be: home. Hopefully none of your friends or followers would rob you and I’m sure your address is not part of your profile, but it’s always better to err on the side of caution. One of the reasons I am writing this blog anonymously is to protect your identity.
- Cleaning House. There are apps such as Simple Wash and Clear that claim they will go through your your social media account and flag anything that could be seen as inappropriate by a future employer so you can choose to delete it, but I just experimented and received error messages on both sites. The best thing is to assume that nothing is private and everything will be permanent and to think about what you post as you post it because, even if you delete it, that doesn’t guarantee that someone didn’t share your post or take a screen shot. Do not clean house if you are involved in or know you will soon become involved in litigation because this could be considered destroying evidence, even if it’s just evidence of your character.
- Networking. Do create a LinkdIn profile and connect with your classmates, mentors and potential future places of employment. Join Facebook groups that are related to your future profession. Follow professional organizations or well-known people in your field. Interact with others and contribute to the discussion. After you graduate, join the alumni groups associated with your school.
As far as your personal Facebook page goes, it’s Aunt Approved! I don’t follow you on Twitter, but maybe I should make an exception and follow one non-bird-related person.
Have a good night!
and created a Twitter account last year for the sole purpose of getting instant updates on the location of birds I might want to see during the Biggest Week in American Birding festival.