Each Sunday morning, almost without fail, my Facebook and Twitter feeds are flooded with updates about my friends’ weekends. As I view pictures of them holding their red Solo Cups, I can’t help but wonder if they had given any thought as to who might see this photo before they uploaded it.
When I was a student at a community college we never spoke about social media in my classes, yet during my first class at RIT I learned that we would be graded on how we used Twitter throughout the quarter. Since then, I have taken several classes where the importance of creating a professional online presence has been drilled into my head.
Admittedly, I was skeptical when I first learned I would be graded on my tweets. I felt like I had to censor my posts to present the best version of myself online. I didn’t feel like I could use Twitter to connect with my friends or to talk about my opinions on the newest reality show anymore.
But I’m not alone. Nikole DeBell, a third year journalism student at RIT, said her social media habits have certainly changed since having to tweet for class. Before she was graded on her tweets she would post more light-hearted content, like a funny meme or pictures from Pinterest. And while she sometimes has a hard time coming up with something to tweet for class, she realizes that what she posts on social media sites can impact how people perceive her.
“I need to present myself in a more professional manner through social media,” DeBell said.
Not all RIT students have to take classs where they are graded on their tweets, but the topic still comes up in other classes. Hayley Strauss, a third year advertising and public relations major, took a class where the professor spoke about being cautious on social media sites.
“I am now more aware of what I post on social media,” Strauss said. “I try to limit complaining, bashing, profanity and stupidity.”
There is no doubt that the way you present yourself online could play a role in your job hunt or the connections you are able to make with people in your industry. There are many tips on how to use social media to help you get a job, including maintaining both a personal and a professional account.
DeBell is already a step ahead as she currently maintains both a personal and professional account. I haven’t taken this step yet, but I am learning how to balance the personal content I post with the professional content. Part of this means that I text my friends instead of replying to all of their tweets, and that I refrain from posting about how my roommates are driving me nuts. Refraining from those posts seems like a small price to pay if it could help me get a better job in the future. But, my opinions on the latest reality shows can still be found on my Twitter feed; it just may require scrolling past a few professional posts to find them.