If you’re reading this somewhere between finishing your last college final and returning the polyester academic robe crumpled on the floor of your dorm room, you’re in the commencement process. Your brain is on emotional and practical overload: you’re simultaneously figuring out how to say goodbye to friends; planning for (or praying for!) a new internship, job, or grad school; and wondering how on earth to pack up all the stuff you’ve accumulated during your college years. Here’s a manageable to-do list: five ways for new graduates to get your digital and social media presence in order.
- Set up and clean up your LinkedIn profile. Of the five profiles sent to me this week from recent grads, three of them had typos — and two candidates had misspelled their major. Have a friend read your profile for common sense, grammar, and spelling. Do the same for a Google+ profile. Pro tip: try your name on Google image search and see what comes up. If you don’t like what you see, update your online profiles and let indexing do its work.
- Review your social media privacy settings. If you’re 21 today, you were 12 when Facebook launched, 14 when Twitter emerged, and are now far too old to be messing around on Snapchat. Younger users tend to be savvier about privacy settings, but just in case: read these Facebook basics and settings controlling who can find you, then hop over to Google and check out Me on the Web. While not all companies will hire through Twitter like this the web is, increasingly, your resume.
- Put together a listening system. Are you still looking for a job or entering a new field? Set up a system of alerts and feeds to keep you informed. Google Alerts have been around forever but are surprisingly useful — enter one or more terms relevant to your area of interest. For blogs and sites you follow, try feedly and its fantastic mobile interface. Use the content you follow to your advantage — at very least you’re staying informed, and at best you’ll have current and relevant ideas to share with co-workers.
- Manage your inbox and contacts effectively. Email is an overwhelming and unwieldy system where, some say, information goes to die. Gmail does have a number of features to improve email management from starred senders to priority inbox; check out Lifehacker for a useful selection of hacks. Mobile email ninjas may do well mastering all the swipe actions of Mailbox to prevent overload. And while a new grad won’t need a fully-fledged contact management system, be sure to keep your contacts in a way that ensures they’re accessible and in context.
- Own your own domain and a sensible email address. It’s true that each new release of gTLDs makes your URL less relevant and search and social more important. That said, for less than 10 bucks a year you can have your own domain name, and refer it to a profile page on LinkedIn or about.me. And now’s the time to set up email forwarding via your academic institution, if they offer it, or settle on an email address that omits your year of birth or favorite Twilight character.
Congratulations! The good news is that it’s neither difficult nor costly to set up a reasonable online presence. The even better news is that digital and social technologies provide you with the keys to find and connect with people and ideas to continue learning beyond the campus you’re leaving behind.
Photo credit: Ladies Home Journal 1931, courtesy George Eastman House