College education in the digital media age is entirely different from what it was for previous generations. New and emergent technology has given students the ability to connect with people around the world and instantly access information. There was a time when many people thought of social media simply as a fun avenue for communicating with friends and family – more of a distraction from schoolwork than a study aid. But today, people everywhere recognize social media as a valuable tool for both school and work. How valuable it is to you depends on how well you know how to use it.
Collaborate, Research, & Distribute
Social media gives today’s students and professionals an easy-to-use avenue for collaboration, research, and idea distribution. This development has changed the way the world communicates, paving the way for new forms of media in old industries. Perhaps the most notable example of this can be found in the news media. Freelance and independent journalists have used social media to completely transform the way we consume news. Often, breaking news is disseminated on social media sites before it finds its way to traditional outlets such as television or radio. Who you follow, and who follows you, can make a major impact on how effectively you gather and circulate information.
Build Your Network
The social world has completely redefined the way we build our professional networks. While there will always be a place for face-to-face networking, sites such as LinkedIn have expanded our reach and made the process easy and instantaneous. Digital media has also changed the way employers view your resume. While it’s still wise to bring a paper copy of your resume to an interview, modern employers will likely have viewed your resume via email or another method of digital submission. Most reputable job search outfits offer the option to directly submit your resume to an employer through their site.
Make the Right Impression
Whether you know it or not, for many employers your social media activity makes up a part of your job application. It’s extremely common for employers to seek information for a candidate online before they set an interview or extend a job offer. The way you interact on social media can almost be considered part of your resume. Likes, dislikes, photos, and comments all come together to form a digital snapshot of you as a candidate.
With employers and others using your social media activity to form an impression of you, it’s so important to protect your name, your reputation, and your brand. Explore your privacy settings on Facebook and any other social media site you use so that you’re aware of your visibility. And just as important, be your own PR person. For everything you post online, remember to ask yourself: what would my employer think (WWMET)?