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Starting college is the ultimate social media ego boost; with every three people you meet on your floor, you're bound to get at least one new follower on Instagram or Twitter. And now that we're almost two quarters through this school year, I'm sure we've all increased our follower count by at least 50. But be forewarned - not everyone catching word of your username is a student. There is a major population of alumni and professionals that are only one click away from seeing your photos from this last weekend's beer pong tournament. Consider this your first glimpse into how powerful, and risky, social media can be.
Winter quarter of my freshman year I landed an internship with our athletics department, a dream of mine prior to starting college. My supervisor was a graduate student, and being only 7 years my senior, became one of my newest Twitter followers. Not having previously thought to censor my tweets, and recently discovering a world of new vices, I recklessly posted about my most recent weekend experience (photos included). Two days later, I was called personally by our Athletic Director to meet with him. Naive as I was, I wasn't prepared for the verbal butt-kicking I received. Turns out he had found my Twitter account through my supervisor and was none too pleased with my choice of content. To save you all the embarrassment and shame I felt during that 30 minute meeting, I've paraphrased the conversation into the following bullet points:
Even the lowly intern forced to be Rudy the Redhawk is a direct reflection of the director, and there is very leniency for those who compromise the credibility of the head honcho.
2. Use the "Would my Mom be okay with me posting this" rule.
If you happen to have a very relaxed mother, you can substitute your conservative grandmother for an indicator.
3. Understand the scope of your actions.
The next professional that sees your racy IG post could be the person that declines your inquiry for a letter of recommendation, use your first years of college to start changing your mindset to include the next 5 years, rather than the next weekend.
I was fortunate enough to escape with just a warning, but it was enough for me to completely change the way I treated my social media. Please consider switching your profiles to private and thinking twice about posting photos from your weekend festivities. You never know who could be watching.
Nanty Carlson | New Student Mentor
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