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Cyber Jungle - A Guide to Staying Safe

Today, it’s almost impossible to escape social media. It’s everywhere. Companies use it, teachers use it, and your future boss is likely using it too. Before you dive head first into tweeting, posting and recording every moment of your college years, stop and think about what can be seen and by the public, how it will affect your future and how to take advantage of this tool.

Privacy Settings

Always check the privacy settings for your social media accounts. You should receive notifications when privacy features are changing, but it’s smart to check these settings each week to ensure that you aren’t sharing that you wouldn’t want presented to a parent, teacher or future employer.

To Post or Not to Post

Everyone has different interests and values different life events, but when you prepare to post something, ask yourself what it says about you. Photos and posts about life on campus, including volunteering or football games could be appropriate. Anything involving alcohol, inappropriate clothing or inappropriate language is probably best to keep to yourself. Use your best judgment. If you aren’t sure, it’s probably best to keep it private.

Build Your Brand

Branding isn’t just for corporations. You can brand yourself. This becomes especially important as you begin to apply for internships and job interviews. If you have a clear online brand that represents what you’re about, you can use it to tell your story.

For example, if you’re applying for an advertising job, you may have your own site that displays ads you’ve created in class, copy you have written or photos and designs you have created. You may share some of what you’ve learned on a blog or a YouTube channel that tells more about you and your career goals. Use social media to leave a positive and memorable mark that shows you’re serious about your future.

Get Linked

Recruiters are saving time by using LinkedIn these days. You can use your profile to apply online, and you can also be found by future employers. Create a LinkedIn profile as a student and begin building your online resume. If appropriate, you can use a part-time job title, or even a volunteer position. Now is the time to start networking and gaining recommendations from other students and professionals you work with. Don’t leave out internships and awards. You can also add PowerPoints and writing to your portfolio.

Join groups and ask questions that are well thought out. Make your presence known to gain attention so you’re taken seriously. Follow thought leaders and learn from what they’re posting.

Find Your Focus

You can use your skills, talents and interests to build your own brand. Do you enjoy writing? Consider blogging about what you’re learning in classes related to your major. Are you a creative type? You could use your blog to display photos and ads you create. Be sure to put a copyright symbol on your work with a link back to your site. It’s easy to steal work these days.

Is design and production your thing? Or, are you interested in being a news personality? Create your own YouTube channel and share your knowledge. Talk about your favorite topics, review books or films, or consider sharing tips and tricks.

If you have an important cause, create a Facebook page and learn how to gain likes. This kind of marketing knowledge can be valuable to a company. You can also use Facebook to promote your other social networking channels. Don’t forget about Twitter. It’s another great way to promote your work. Just be sure your account is appropriate. You may consider making a completely separate and private account to tweet with friends.

In the end, remember that it’s much harder to take something off the web than it is to put it on. People can copy, save and share your life in an instant. Rather than falling victim to the world of social media, use it to build your future.