Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Personal vs. The Professional

As I am applying to grad schools or preparing to search for jobs after May, I have been sprucing up my LinkedIn profile as well as just trying to edit and improve my general online presence.  This has become an important part of the near-graduation ritual for college students since the advent of social networking - separating the personal from the professional.  And as PR is one of my career interests, I've found myself conflicted.  The lines are suddenly more blurred.

All professors, media outlets, and adults in my life constantly lecture about the safety and privacy issues of online profiles.  Some say my generation is on an "information overload," both taking in more information than we can handle and outputting more facts about ourselves than anyone needs to know.  It has become a conversation meant to scare us and make us fear the consequences of these tools.  However, in a PR class that focused on the use of social media, it became apparent to me that if you want to make it in the business, you also have prove you know what you are doing.  My professor encouraged us to publicize our tweets and blogs to show companies we are great at using these social platforms and are fantastic writers.

But I still can't help myself from doubting if that's okay.  The voices in my head from growing up just won't go away.  For example, the same professor (a fairly young graduate student) posted on her personal blog that she felt she had to put on an act in a way, to ensure her students that she is indeed enough of an expert in the area of PR to teach it, even when she may not feel that way.  Did reading this making me question whether she was qualified to teach the subject?  Sure.  Did it also allow me to see her as more human than before?  Yes, it probably did.  Did it help me get to know her and understand her on a more personal level?  Definitely.  So is that something appropriate for her to post and for me to find as her student?  I guess it is up to whoever you ask.

This leads to the root of the problem.  I am an intelligent person.  I don't post anything online that is embarrassing or shows me doing immoral things.  However, I am also a very honest and straightforward person.  I don't tend sugarcoat or hide my opinions and beliefs.  If a future employer sees posts on this blog or sees my tweets if they were made public, they would definitely know my views on anything from religion to politics to music to how conflicted I am on my life plan, which could potentially ruin an opportunity, whether that's a legitimate thing for them to judge me on as a candidate or not.  In preparing my online life for examination, I feel like I have to hide who I am.  I have to be ashamed of myself and what I believe in, and that feels wrong.  Can I show that I'm more than just a list of experiences and facts written on a resume?  Or is that more of a reason to not offer me the job?

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