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E-list celebrity stardom…

2012 January 16
by roostonline

How does your use of social media change when you leave university? I graduated from Durham last June, and having recently spent some time with Roost doing Work Experience I have observed several differences between student and graduate use of Facebook. Or at least, how your use of Facebook ought to be different once you leave university.

As an introduction to university life, the Durham student website simply stated ‘Durham University students = Facebook addicts’. This is very true. The average student uses Facebook for unadulterated self-promotion. Your wall needs to resemble that of an E-list celebrity; posts saying you’ve attended VIP nights, you and your equally E-list aspiring friends appearing in clubs’ own (branded) photos, and ‘personal’ wall posts from the university’s biggest socialites. Students work all hours of the night to cultivate this image, blissfully unaware of how such content will be perceived and used in the future.

Facebook arrived in my final year at school and was instantly blocked on all computers. Although not actively discouraged from using it, the amount of scare-mongering from school was enough to make us think twice about signing up. We were told that employers, universities and schools had special access to view everything on your profile, regardless of your privacy settings. They could even read your private messages. Only in the last week have I discovered this is not true. Still, it worked – although I defied school and joined in the scramble for friends, I have always been overly cautious about what I post and what appears on my Facebook profile.

Despite now knowing that Facebook is not an evil big brother, the fear that once content is out there it never goes away still looms. There is a regular stream of scandalous stories from the press and from friends about people being sacked or not getting jobs based on the content of their Facebook profile. Those once sought-after accolades of sociability and hedonism are now the very thing which graduates are trying to purge from their profiles. Viewing your profile through the eyes of a potential or current employer should make you nervous, even if you never achieved such E-list stardom at university. The image the graduate needs to promote and the image the student aspires to attain are so incongruous that I know some who are considering having two accounts (not wanting to let go of that hard-earned student profile), or starting afresh. Google+ with its circles seems to be the way to avoid this clash of interests, but none of my peers have heard of it.

Never was the beneficial, professional use of social media encouraged, or even explained at either at school or university. Facebook was only ever viewed negatively by the authorities as a brilliant means of procrastination. Which it is. But not in any of my numerous meetings with careers advisers were the benefits of a ‘healthy’ Facebook profile pointed out, or LinkedIn mentioned as a useful networking tool. Being at Roost has shown me how crucial it is that all your social media is entirely presentable to an employer, or at least carefully safeguarded by your privacy settings. The most surprising thing is how many graduates have open profiles with their non-degree achievements on view for all employers to see. Maybe this is why students are finding it so hard to get a job these days.

https://twitter.com/#!/Katenmullins

^KM

 

2 Responses leave one →
  1. January 16, 2012

    Thanks for your guest post Kate. It was a pleasure to have you in the office over the past few weeks.
    We hope you’ll keep in touch and come and see us again when you’re back from your travels in Uganda.
    ^CJ

  2. January 16, 2012

    Really interesting post, thanks Kate. I was surprised to hear about the myths that schools were spreading about Facebook use. It does highlight the extent to which people invest themselves – their sense of self – into online profiles and spaces, and also the significance that people now attribute to making sure that their online (as well as offline) representations of self are suitable for the eyes of current and future employers.

    In fact there are many websites that offer “online reputation management” services; analysing your presence on the internet and allowing you to clean up your digital act. Google even offers their own service – “Me on the Web” – and make this important point – it’s not just up to you:

    “Your online identity is determined not only by what you post, but also by what others post about you — whether a mention in a blog post, a photo tag or a reply to a public status update”.
    via Mashable: http://on.mash.to/AzM0D8

    ^MW

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