Helping students create a deliberate online presence

TheNakedTruth1Our first year students, including transfers, all take a 7-week College Success Seminar. The topics range from alcohol education to study skills. These past few years they’ve added online presence to the curriculum. Most of us working with students and young people have not grown up in the current TMI Environment. TMI to us, but normal expression to many of our patrons. It’s not that don’t believe me when I say I Google anyone I’m considering hiring. It’s that our standards of acceptable online behavior are vastly different.

A colleague of mine recently approached me about helping our students create a PROFESSIONAL presence online. We’re not throwing in the towel and no longer encouraging them not to post pictures related to beer pong or sharing stories on FB about their recent nasty break-up. Our hope is to help them deliberately develop a professional online presence to: a) help prepare them for post-college life and b) maybe create some AHA moments as they develop a professional presence that transcends to their personal online presence.

Our first step was to find partners-in-crime. We’ve recruited the social media director in the Dean of Students office and the online networking guy in our Career Services office. We’ve approached faculty and departments such as Education and the Arts that already have students create online portfolios as part of classes or requirements for the major.

We’ve just started this process and I look forward to sharing what we do and lessons learned as we go along. Our next step is to recruit students with professional online presences representing a variety of disciplines. With their help and our intrepid student workers our plan is to create:

  • sample portfolios: both professional and non-professional examples
  • how-to videos on the benefits, ins and outs of Linked In, Facebook, and Twitter for professional purposes
  • video interviews from professionals on what they look for in Google searches and in online professional portfolios and activities
  • a website for Career Services that focuses on these issues with links to strong examples of professional presences

It makes sense to me that the library would be part of such an initiative especially with so many libraries becoming Learning Commons. The lessons students can learn from us go beyond databases. We are experts in information; we can show them how to better understand and control the information about themselves.

A few articles to browse:
NYTimes article on creating a professional online presence
From the student affairs perspective

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