College Life – Social Networking – “The Good, The Bad and the Ugly”

FacebookYouTube, Twitter and Instagram.  Which social networking site or sites do you use? If social networking is a big part of your life, you are not alone.  According to digital information provider ComScore, in September 2007 more than 1 billion people around the world were subscribed to social networking sites. 154 million people logged in each day.

The Good

Sites like Facebook help you keep in touch with old friends and make new ones. They inform, educate, entertain and keep you in the loop. Business networking sites, like LinkedIn, can help with your job search. Recently, Yahoo announced that it is very interested in a social network called Kickstart. This site would connect college students with alumni at companies where they wish to work.

Elaine Young, professor and director of marketing and e-business management for Champlain College in Vermont, believes Facebook can actually benefit students. “Employers do look at Facebook and MySpace,” she says. “Tune up your image to showcase your strengths… and maximize your professional visibility. Social networking has moved to the business world.”

The Bad

More and more employers are realizing just how much they can find out about prospective employees on the Internet. Students have been turned down for positions, interviews and internships because of information they, or someone else, posted online.

Posting photos of yourself at a party or on spring break may be fun for you and your friends, but it may not bring the same laugh from a job recruiter.

The Ugly

Stories go on and on about photos being misconstrued with very costly outcomes. One case in point, earlier this year Miss New Jersey was advised by pageant officials that some of her past activities were being investigated. They were concerned about photos they had received. They were concerned about the integrity of the pageant.

Someone had copied embarrassing photos from her private, password-protected online account and sent them to pageant officials. Although the photos showed no nudity or illegal activity, they were “suggestive” of an image that was by no means true. Her photos went from private fun to public embarrassment, not something anyone would want to endure. She did keep her crown but damage had been done to her reputation.

Always keep in mind:

• Before putting anything online, realize that what you may regard as innocent could be taken negatively by others. Ask yourself if you would want your parents or grandparents viewing it. If not, you probably do not want it viewed by a prospective employer either and you should not post it.

• If you let anyone, even friends, take videos or photos of you partying, you do not have control of the pictures. They can be posted at any time online.

• Once you put information online, it is difficult or even impossible to get it removed. Even if you delete photos or text, they might have already been copied to other websites or public forums. Also, search engines store pages for future access.

Usually, once information is out there, it stays out there.

About the Author

Shelley Ladin and Rhoda Geller, college career coaches specializing in working with high school, college and graduate students and professionals in achieving their career and life goals.  Visit the coaches at

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