Students use social media for personal branding

Jessica Lee

When Anjli Mehta began sorting through dozens of unanswered emails, she thought the message from USA Today was junk mail. She took a quick glance at the contents of the email only to find that it was a job offer. The newspaper had found her dating blog, This Single Life, through Twitter and asked that she write for its online, college-themed publication.

A year ago, Mehta, a senior multimedia journalism major, created her blog through WordPress, a website that allows users to create their personal blogs for free.

“I created This Single Life not only as a space for me to express my ideas about relationships and dating, but also I wanted something that I could put at the top of my resume,” Mehta said. “I definitely didn’t create it expecting major magazines to come knocking at my door with job opportunities, but I guess it just suddenly got popular and worked out that way.”

It was the idea of linking her blog to her Twitter account that allowed Mehta to reach a broader audience. Every time she creates a new post, Mehta includes a link to the post on her Twitter account so her followers can easily access the blog.

Patricia McConnico, the senior content editor at Texas Monthly, has noticed an increase in job candidates using social media outlets to exhibit their skills.

“I think the reason for this is twofold: to show potential employers that said candidate has web experience and to cut back on costs,” McConnico said.

But are businesses really taking the time to look at personal interest blogs provided on resumes?

“I do find these useful,” McConnico said. “But I look at the resume first. If the candidate looks promising, I print the resume and then I might look at the website.”

Matt Berndt, director of communication career services, urges students to manage their Facebook and Twitter accounts to uphold their online public brand, the identity they create for themselves online.

“You have to remember that the Internet is a public environment,” Berndt said. “Anything available online is fair game.”

According to Berndt, social media can be a means of connecting people with businesses and employers that would usually be hard to connect with. Students in search of employment can put a portfolio of their work online that is more accessible than a print copy.

“Social media is a great way to advance your brand, but you’ve got to back up that networking with substance,” Berndt said.

Junior psychology major Sarah Kettles has created a personal brand for herself through her website The Positive Affect. She uses the site to display her research at UT as well as to document her journey to graduate school.

Kettles plans to show potential employers her website so they will be able to get to know her beyond an interview and a resume.

“I think this is a great way to show schools and employers that I really know my stuff,” Kettles said. “On the website, they can look at all my accomplishments and see how hard I’ve worked and how hard I’m willing to work.”

As an editor hiring new professionals regularly, McConnico finds social media to be a great judge of one’s abilities.

“A website that is easy to navigate, professional, designed well and showcases a person’s talent and work history is a plus,” McConnico said. “We don’t see that many huge boxes of portfolios coming through like we used to.”