LinkedIn: Picture Not Mine.

LinkedIn 101 for the College Grad: Passive Networking

Disclaimer: All of these tips are base on the free, non-paid version of LinkedIn that anyone can sign up for. I’ve never used nor claim to have absolute knowledge on LinkedIn Premium. If I ever do so, I’ll be sure to update the post accordingly or create a new one.

Most college graduates and students have been faced with the idea of networking. Unfortunately, nowadays even more of us don’t come from situations where we have a large amount of contacts within the field that we’re interested in. Because of that, even with the help of your career counselors and academic advisors it’s still very easy to feel lost, or just generally out of touch on how to gain information and start networking towards one’s career.

While the eventual goal should be to establish contacts, I believe that for college students and graduates one of the goals should be to use your affinity for social media to establish “passive networking”. I define passive networking as a networking form that is done through the collection and distribution of information. Of all the ways to share content or information, social media is the quickest and easiest channel.

So which channel should you use for passive networking methods? I believe this can be done through various social media sites, but for college students, it’s better to use an already established network for professional connections. With all that being said, here are my tips and recommendations for successful passive social media networking using LinkedIn.

Share Content In Groups: While status content updates are incredibly helpful – I do it all the time myself – it can be incredibly useful to share your content inside industry-relevant groups. To do so, you should work on having an active presence with your group and share articles that you think would be relevant or helpful. At the same time, work your way up to moving your own content. Be open to criticism, and look for ways to ramp up your blogging skills. You obviously know you should be writing all the time in college, right?

Use LinkedIn for Volunteering: I’m sure by how you’ve seen the plenty of articles that reference volunteering as a way to expand your career during the job search. LinkedIn recognized this, and created a section to advertise volunteering opportunities. Volunteering should always be an important asset for the civically engaged person, but it’s also a good way to connect to people outside of your immediate network.

Besides making connections, you can use volunteer opportunities to hone your skills towards a cause you care about. Use it as a way to network while also giving back within your own community.

Embed Your Work into Your Profile: Whether you’re a writer or an engineer, one of the nice things about college life is that there’s a chance for you to write a paper or do research that is uniquely your own creation (with proper source citing I hope). Over time, LinkedIn has created a host of applications that allow you to embed your work. Here’s a guide to which providers are approved to link content.

The best feature of this is that it essentially gives you the ability to implement an online portfolio without making one’s own website. If you do plan on having a website later down the road your LinkedIn profile can be a “storage” of sorts for whatever info you want to host there. (Side Note: If you want to create a personal website right away, here’s an amazing guide on how to do so).

Overall, the goal should be to build up your profile as much as possible. Utilize your own great ideas to create content that you can share amongst your network. Good luck and be sure to leave a comment if you have any extra tips or questions!

Copyright of Good.Co. Not mine!

Quick Links: Life After Graduation

A few days ago, I discovered a wonderful website called Good.Co that’s geared towards psychological development & the workforce. Since I’m a big fan of personality theory & career development, I figured I’d check it out. While I was most certainly not a psychology major and thus can’t really quantify how valid all of the information on the site is, I really enjoyed some of the key features of the sites, such as the free personality test that you can take when you sign up.

Essentially, it helps you to discover your workplace personality and style through a simple questionnaire. My result split me into the three categories of the Dreamer, Idealist, and Innovator which gave a full listing on what other types of personalities I would or wouldn’t get along with alongside recommendations for workplace habits and careers. They also come with famous people as the avatars for each description – sadly I don’t think Beyonce is on there. Maybe I’ll send that in as a future recommendation.

Though my favorite resource so far is the blog, but there’s no surprises there. For recent grads who are searching or lucky enough to be employed, Good.Co has a Life After Graduation resource list for the Class of 2014. My favorite posts are on career development for Gen Y employees  (once again, no surprises) but I really do love that they focus on personal branding and workplace happiness. So many post-college resources are dedicated to the grind of getting a job that they fail to explain what happens afterwards. For those who are still searching for a job or want to brush up on their workplace skills – I definitely recommend checking out this site.

Are there any other career blogs you’d like to recommend?

Twitter

Twitter 101 for the College Grad

If you had asked me 3 years ago if I would be active on Twitter, I – pretty embarrassingly – would’ve scoffed and stated that I wasn’t a fan of Twitter. As a current college graduate, I can definitely attest to the fact that for content alone, Twitter is my premier resource for finding out what’s going on in my two favorite fields, marketing/social media and higher education. Plus, getting to tweet at my college president definitely makes having a Twitter 500% worth it.

On a non-professional level, there are tons of casual activities you can do on Twitter. You can get news updates, follow companies and get sales/deals, and plenty of other things in an insanely quick format. When I first started using Twitter, it gave me the chance to check out comedians, funny facts, and some CEOs I was really fascinated by. And it’s incredibly easy to sift through information when it’s only 140 characters.

Though even if you’re using it as a social outlet, I always caution people to make their tweets private if you’re going to use your name and picture. Most people don’t want to be the student who gets caught skipping class because they tweeted that they were smoking downtown. Just remember, your bosses/administrators/etc. don’t live in caves. They’re probably online as well.

But if you’re a college grad, you’re probably not all too interested in hearing that you can retweet Conan O’Brien unless you’re going for a career in comedy. Though I use Twitter as a part of representing my identity as a Lafayette student (now alumni) and promoting my blog posts, remember that Twitter should ultimately be a social experience even if you are using it on a professional level. The most important part of Twitter for me is connecting with thought leaders and expand my interests in the field of social media marketing. Depending on what you’re interested in, Twitter is an simple way to keep yourself updated and engaged in what’s going on in relation to your work. There are also many other general benefits to using it professionally such as:

  •  Establishing a quick online presence: most college students and grads don’t really want their Facebook profiles on their resumes, and more often than not you shouldn’t. But for those especially applying in fields where an online presence is beneficial and should be listed on one’s resume, having a Twitter profile is a pretty easy way to show that you’re active online without (hopefully) having to give out any info that could be seen as unprofessional.
  • Engaging with brands informally: Are you looking to work at X company? See what they say and do on their Twitter page. This will also give you an idea of how important social media could be to them. Do they only share their own content or are they actively engaging with customers? How frequent do they post? What is the tone and voice of their posts online? This can be especially helpful if you’re looking for a job and crafting a cover letter as you can use their voice to show that you get the company culture.
  •  Connect to those in your field: For recent grads, it’s always important to figure out who counts as at least one or two steps above you, and how they got to the position that they are at. Especially if you’re hoping to be a trailblazer in your specialty one day, figure out who are some of the people that you might be able to reach out to, and learn more from them. If nothing else, you may also learn a lot by seeing how their handle their social media presence, and what kind of content they find relevant.
  • Improve your writing skills: Can you say something intelligent in 140 characters? Can you do that while sharing articles, including pictures, and commenting on other’s work? I’ll admit, I definitely had trouble doing so when I first started out with Twitter. I always had so much to say, but so little space to say it in. And I really enjoy Twitter for helping me to push to be more concise online. While I’ll never lose my penchant for long-winded thoughts or conversations, there is definitely a useful space for being able to keep things short and sweet. If you have similar trouble, I recommend using Twitter as a practice tool for writing. If you can tell a story in 1000 words or 140 characters, you’re in good shape for a lot of careers.

So after all this, you’re probably thinking what exactly do I have to do to get active? The best medicine for social media often happens through trial and error, but here are a few 200-level tips for those hoping to create a great professional Twitter profile.

Join TweetChat sessions: TweetChats are really amazing opportunities to connect with other thought leaders – or other interested grads – via online. Essentially it’s a live Chat session that can be followed with a specific hashtag. For example, if I wanted to do a live chat of my graduation, I could use a hashtag such as #laf14gradday or something along those lines. For a more comprehensive description check out this great Forbes article on TweetChats. You can easily do one yourself if you’re interested in gaining prominence as an expert in your field. Alternatively, joining other TweetChats is not only a great way to meet thought leaders, but also a potential way to gain more followers depending on the content you publish.

Participate in Follow Friday or look for groups: On most Fridays, you can use the Follow Friday #ff hashtag to find interesting people to follow. If you’re not 100% sure whether that will be too much information to sift through, see if there are groups that you can be added to. For example, I’m part of a social media rising stars group and the HerCampus Blogger Network group on Twitter – and those resources definitely help when trying to find more people within a similar field.

Recognize that you lose a level of brand agency: While it’s up to you to make an amazing profile and start connecting to others, there is a certain level of agency you lose when going online. You can control what you say, but you don’t have agency over what others say about you. While this usually causes more issues for those running company over personal profiles, it’s still a good thing to keep in mind.

Got any more tips on how to run a professional Twitter profile? Leave them in the comments!
And a special congratulations to the Class of 2014!

Pardee Hall

Blogging 101 for the College Grad

Wow! It feels like 2014 has flown by so quickly already. I’ve finishing up the busiest (and last) semester of my college career, and preparing to graduate next Saturday!

Now that I have all the wisdom of a soon-to-be college graduate, I want to share some of the tips I’ve learned both as a blogger and as someone who has gotten involved in social media marketing in Twitter, Facebook, and beginning with Pinterest and Instagram! I’m hoping I can share some of my exploration with the rest of you, which I’m going to term as part of my “101” series in online marketing.

This week’s series is on one of my favorite platforms: blogging. I’ve blogged in WordPress primarily, but I’m familiar with other platforms as well. Simply put, I want to make a quick guide of tips for those who are hoping to find their niche within the blogging world. If you’re struggling to figure out exactly what you want to get out of your blog content, here are a few ideas to get to you started with some follow-up actions to boot.

Sometimes having a quick, 5-minute activity is all you need to start creating amazing posts. So what exactly do you want to do to create great, open blog content?

Try out a bunch of things

If you’ve been blogging throughout college or are just starting post-graduation, the early stages of blogging rarely have a clear focus. When I first started producing online content, I wrote about everything from sustainable farming to dating advice – and I personally think that I’m much better for it. If you have an idea in mind of what you want to do, and you think that you can push forward in it, definitely go ahead. But if you have mixed feelings on what content you want to offer, it’s OK to “play around” for a bit. At some point, you’ll start to discover exactly what you want. And that’s when you’ll find your niche. Just don’t spend those first 3-4 months or so panicking because your blog doesn’t have a set theme. You might end up splitting it off into multiple themes, and that can end up being an incredibly valuable experience.

Action: Make a list of topics that interest you, and see if you can think of any sample blog posts to go alongside that.

Read other blogs

One of the best things that happened during my blogging career was to join the HerCampus Blogger Network. When I was trying to figure out exactly how to structure my blog, I looked at many of their styles to figure out what I wanted to offer, and just how interesting I could make it. It was so helpful to look at those who had witty, well-organized, and incredibly fun blogs such as Lady Unemployed and Flawlessly Flawed to see what kind of content that I could be providing to others. I always recommend looking at the work of those who are one or two steps above you – sometimes the best muse is browsing the ideas of those who have already become incredibly accomplished.

Action: Set up Google Alerts for your topic (or topics) of interests. See if any common new sites or blogs come up, and browse their sites for design and content ideas.

Write for others – share your content

When I first started blogging, most of my content was created for others. While I had been writing for a variety of sites since at least my sophomore year, it wasn’t until I met Kira Sabin at a Lafayette Sex Week talk that I decided to write for the College Crush. It was an exciting experience for a number of reasons, but most importantly, I got to establish an online voice that wasn’t simply talking about academic criteria or summarizing the works of others. Though I am nowhere near a dating expert, I enjoyed creating content that would be applicable for an area of focus that I was actually familiar with: college women. Also, it helps to create an established online presence and gain traffic for your own blog.

Action: See if any of your favorite blogs are looking for guest writers. Make sure that your blog will be listed either in the post or in the summary section to gain traffic.

Though these are just a starting base of tips, use them to push forward in creating a unique voice for your blog. Blogging isn’t easy work if you plan to really focus in on it, but push forward and see what kind of amazing things you can come up with!

Copyright flypaper magazine.

Let Feminists Be Feminine

As I’ve stated a few times, I identify as a feminist.

I’m a feminist and a college student – which tend to conflict more often than not. People are often pretty hostile about my refusal to fall back on principles that I don’t agree with – whether it comes from not laughing at a sexist/racist joke, not participating in a party with a clearly anti-woman theme, or generally questioning the idea of intellectualism in academia and its exclusion of women nearly across the board.

But when I first started to identify as a feminist – what really got to me was the questioning of my femininity.

I’m someone who focuses a lot of things that are traditionally feminine – makeup, nail polish, fancy clothes/dress/etc., and I’m sure I have a host of other traditionalist pursuits.

I also decided to cut my hair, which confused everyone around me and coincidentally happened around the same time I decided to openly identify as a feminist. And the comments typically went like this:

How do you stand your hair being so… coarse?

Why did you cut your hair? It was so beautiful before with your curls!

How can you be a feminist when you spend so much time putting on makeup?

I thought feminists were all ugly… but you’re not.

And this is just another example of why I choose to be a feminist. The fact that people feel as though a woman’s credibility should be questioned based on her race, appearance, style, and general lifestyle choices are reinforcing why we need feminism.

If someone falls too far from conventional femininity, people won’t take their opinion seriously. If you’re too close to it, then you’re not really fighting for a cause because you’re falling into traditional norms.

And yes, there is a certain aspect of femininity that reinforces patriarchal notions, but that doesn’t encompass all of feminism by any way, shape, or means.

If someone is actively helping the cause of feminism, recognizing their privilege, and working to create a more inclusive dialogue that all can participate – then they’re a feminist. Their appearance doesn’t confirm or deny any of those aspects of their personality.

At the same time, if someone decides not to fall into traditional ideas of femininity, that doesn’t make their opinions any less valid either. Considering the absolutely vicious things people will say to those who refuse to fit into conventionality, they’re taking great steps to support their sense of personal and social identification.

Overall, feminism is not about physical appearance. It’s about changing sense of ideology, purpose, and focus. Feminism is not, and will never be a monolith. And if you want to limit it based on narrow definitions of attractiveness or physical appearance, then you’ll be missing on how much it has to offer.

Copyright The Gloss

***Flawless (Senior Advice)

Disclaimer: This is just a fun reflection post I put up for my birthday. I make no promises to offer and worldly sage advice, just a few more thoughts on senior year and turning 21. Enjoy!

Yes, I know the caption image is from the song “Superpower.” Yes, I am an avid Beyonce fan. No shame. 

So I forgot to do a post yesterday – it was a pretty hectic and laid-back weekend at the same time. Today’s my birthday, and I’m finally turning 21 with less than 90 days to graduation. It’s also Dr. Seuss’ birthday, which I’m devastated that no one has mentioned up until this point.

More than anything, it’s nice to have a quiet day where I can reflect on how far I have (or haven’t) come since freshman year. Oddly enough, I can say that I’ve managed to accomplish everything that I wanted to do.  And a bit more than that as well. I’ve been a lot of people at Lafayette College who have broadened my perspective on the world and what it means to be a global, engagement, and active citizen, which  is more than I really could have hoped for at college. Most importantly, I’ve learned that I’m really never going to stop learning – which seems a bit obvious to most. But for me, I really had hoped to go to college, learn some marketable skills, and graduate. But now, I can sincerely say that I’ve done a significant amount more than that. And that’s really more than I would’ve asked for at college.

I think one of the greatest things about this year is coming to terms with what it means to be a college student, and a member of Lafayette’s community. More than half of the student body is full of over-committed overachievers (myself included), but I think that’s one of the many things liberal arts colleges offer that we can’t quite get anywhere else.

While I think its very useful to be involved in a single activity that they give their heart to. I strongly recommended allowing yourself to try things out. I really didn’t find my niche until junior year, and my that point I was having to deal with the level of social capital – both positive and negative – that I had created at our college. I think that it’s really important to be allowed to explore for a variety of reasons, not even just for the general learning experience.

I don’t think college is really about finding yourself. At all, really.

But I do believe that college gives the chance to discover who you are in relation to the world at large. The activities you take on, the professors you learn from, and the memories you create are all a reflection of the person who you have become in this world. I don’t think this viewpoint is isolated to college, or that college is the only way that you can accomplish these goals, but I think that it’s important to recognize that college may be one of the only places to get a full view of theories and methods behind social, scientific, and general societal concerns. You don’t have to take advantage of everything, but you should definitely refocus your efforts as well as you can.

… and if nothing else, do as much as you can to maximize your tuition dollars.

Image Copyright Clare College

WordPlay

As a resident INFP, I think a lot about the nuances and politics of language. We even had the chance to talk about it in relation to sexuality and relationships during our ALF meeting today.

In both of my disciplines, I’m constantly arguing on we structure terms and the implications of those words. For example, we’re very quick to assign terms such as ‘fundamentalism’ or ‘uniformity’ to Islam, while allowing other world religions to have a freer sense of flexibility. Or the fact that you’ll rarely ever hear the word thug used in relation to anyone other than a black man. Or, as we expressed in ALF, the terms surrounding sex – hit it/screw her/nail her/bang her/etc. are pretty violent. And as a victim of sexual assault, that really struck me in a way that I hadn’t completely thought of before.

What does it mean to structure ourselves around a series of implications and stereotypes? Is that something we can explain away just because that’s how society has continued to be? Or is this something that we should change for the better?

I’ll always argue for the latter obviously, but it is notable that to an extent, we don’t consciously understand or actively try to oppose these stereotypes. Not that we’re validating them either, where’s the line between complacency and ignorance? Maybe there isn’t one.

What’s your take on the future of Higher Education?

What’s your take on the future of Higher Education?

Happy Friday everyone!

This article comes at such a convenient time for me – I had the pleasure of meeting Lafayette’s newest President yesterday, and she had so many fascinating things to say about the future of higher education and the resulting discussion on whether our degrees/education/experience/etc. has any form of quantitative market value. Additionally, she brought up the need to integrate new technologies with higher education models – using MOOCs as the obvious example. 

And that got me thinking – is that really what I want from my college? I can sincerely attest to the awesome nature of MOOCs – Coursera is one of my favorite websites, and I’ve been using Lynda.com to revisit some software models that I’m gotten rusty with. But at the same time, I think that there’s a lot to be gained from in-person discussion experiences. It’s one of the greatest things about my college in that perspective. 

I think that there are a lot of different takes on higher education models and whether some degrees are more useful over others – but ultimately that perspective leads to a damaging derailment of what college is. Yes, we all want degrees that provide market value and can further our careers. At the same time it’s important to remember that college should teach us more than that. Most of my greatest college experiences were outside the classroom experiences – through clubs, committees, and most often jobs. And this is probably the liberal arts student speaking to me, but I also think that the mentoring relationships that I’ve gained in college are equally as important as my other experiences. 

But I absolutely agree with Selingo’s point that some parts of the college experience are taken for granted. There should be a significant focus on career development, financial management, civic engagement, and even skills that should be general – language learning, computer and information literacy, and public speaking – that colleges should refocus into their curriculum. Students should be allowed to structure their college experiences, but it would be helpful if there were a set of base skills that they all had to learn. 

I think there will be a lot more revisiting in the future, but the ‘future of higher education’ isn’t quite what I’m worried about anymore – I honestly believe that many colleges are actively working to change their perspectives on what they can offer students. Unfortunately, we may be a risk for colleges being used as a substitute for the convoluted – and ultimately destructive – nature of the entire U.S. education system. Fixing one element of the problem may be a temporary fix, but it doesn’t get into some of the bigger problems – but I’ll tackle those in another post!

What are your suggestions for working/improving the world of higher education?

Why College Students Should Write Every Day

Toby My Dear

It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.

- Ernest Hemingway

Maybe it’s the inner humanities and social science major inside me talking, but one of the things I regret most in college is not taking enough time for my writing. I think there are so many hidden benefits to writing, and it’s often overlooked for many people. As someone who has taken on a lot of writing positions through jobs and internships, I know for one thing that writing is an evolving process. I don’t think you ever become ‘perfect’ at writing, you just improve and adapt over time.

And even more unfortunately, people often sell themselves short on their writing abilities. After being a writing associate for Lafayette’s college writing program for a year, I’ve learned that there are many different writing styles based on linguistic styles and cultural perceptions of writing.

But why does this really matter to college students?

Most of our work is comprised of writing research papers, personal statements, and lab reports – so we often feel that writing well is something that we already know. It’s tiring – sometimes I feel that I spend more time writing papers than actually learning about my projects/classes – but improving your writing skills has a lot of benefits.

Personal Development:

For those of you still in the Valentine’s day spirit, writing is a sweet (and less costly and cliche) way of express your feelings for someone. I’m a big fan of letter writing myself, as I believe it is an amazing way to describe yourself and your experiences in a way that doesn’t come across in person.

In college, writing can be a combination of relaxing and creativity. Even if you write on a completely casual level, it can be a much better way of reflecting than just ignoring your own personal thoughts and experiences.

Professional Development:

Cover Letters, Resumes, Business Reports – all of those need a solid handle on business writing. While it can be very time consuming, practicing and attending workshop – or even just reading a few online articles can help improve your stake in the professional world. And since getting a job is the end goal for most college students, it’s a valuable skill to learn while in college.

The job market keeps changing especially in the world of digital media – so its important to learn how to sell yourself via writing in a number of ways – 140 characters, Images, Infographics, and many other styles. That online portfolio won’t write itself unfortunately.

Element of Surprise:

It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because by that time I was too famous.

- Robert Benchley

It’s really amazing what kind of things writing will do for you – especially once you put it out there in the world. Writing has connected me with really amazing people online, helped me to educate my fellow students, and even discover my love for marketing.

One of my friends is an English major, but her talents in writing has brought her to the fields of communication, education, and even put her at the forefront of some of our college’s publications.

While the actual ins and outs of writing are something that we discover in time, there are so many fantastic and unconventional things that can happen when you put your writing out there for the world to see. Often enough, many of those things are rejections, but its pretty hard to put anything out into the open and not have it criticized. (Maybe if you cured cancer?)

Regardless, I wish everyone the best with their writing and urge everyone to keep at it, even if you don’t think you’re particularly good at it. You’d be surprised what you’re actually good at when you put your mind to it.

 

What do you need to stop wasting your time on?

What do you need to stop wasting your time on?

I absolutely loved this article. I think its incredibly true to life, and points 20-25 hit me right close to home.

And while I think that one could go on forever, there’s one thing that at least for college students I believe is an important thing to stop wasting time on: 

Stop trying to get everything ‘right’: Unfortunately, you won’t get everything right. Whether it’s the right answer, the right question, the right idea, it happens. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to get things right at all, but change your approach from getting things right to understanding instead. What is it that you understand now? If you ask people why they want the right answer – most of us will chalk it up to grades. But at some point your experience won’t be measured in grades or quantitative evaluations, so focus on your internal progress, not getting the right answer.

So, what you think are big time wasters?