Social Media Usage

3 minutes

Social media has greatly revolutionized the way individuals interact with one another over the past several years. Today, due to the popularity of social media, there is an unprecedented amount of personal information available to the public through these sites.  While many individuals use social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and blogs for fun and as a convenient way to keep in touch with friends, family and acquaintances, it is important to be aware of the implications of how social media can impact other aspects of your life, including your career.  While there is much debate regarding whether social media profiles should remain personal and private, it is no secret that some employers use these online sources to gather information about their employees or candidates they are considering to hire.

The internship market for international applicants is extremely competitive.  In this economy, there are fewer internships available and more candidates that apply to each position, including many U.S. based applicants. You want to make sure to present yourself in the best light possible and not put anything into the public sphere that could jeopardize your professional success.  Since social media is largely public, even despite privacy settings, you must be careful about how you present yourself. Employers may use these tools to understand their employees or potential internship candidates beyond their resumes, as this information may influence their overall job performance.  Please see some tips below for how to appropriately manage your social media accounts so that you present yourself in the most positive way to prospective employers.

Remove any inappropriate material that you would not want an employer to see or know about you.  While job qualifications are ultimately the top factor in determining whether or not you will be hired, employers may use social media investigation to determine how well you would fit culturally and socially in the company environment.  In other words, if there are many photos of you out on the town, engaging in questionable activities that may discourage an employer from hiring you, you should take them down or ensure that they are not visible to the public.  Inappropriate material is not limited to photos, but can also include personal writing, status updates, and tweets. 

Use appropriate language and wording in publically visible fields. Anything from an unprofessional email address to a Twitter username may impact an employer's perception of you.  When selecting and using language in publically available information, always keep in mind who can see it.  Employers may look into your social media profiles to verify information or determine whether or not you would be a good fit to the company on a social level.  Keep this in mind when you share information and label yourself. If the language used or content discussed is off-putting, it may impact your ability to get or keep an internship/training opportunity.  Certain topics to be careful with include extreme religious or political viewpoints, in-depth descriptions of your personal life (particularly if you often discuss drinking, drugs, excessive amounts of time in nightlife activities/clubbing, etc.), your physical or mental health, opinions/complaints about your current job or previous employers, etc.

Use social media to your advantage.  While social media information may have negative consequences if not managed properly, you can certainly utilize it to your advantage.  Many individuals use LinkedIn to provide a more complete profile of their experience, or they can have their social media profiles reflect their personal lives in a positive light.  Professional profiles should be updated regularly and be consistent with your internship applications.  Personal profiles can showcase activities that you engage in such as charities, or volunteer work, or other notable personal accomplishments.  LinkedIn is also a great way to connect with and communicate with employees at companies where you may be interested in interning. Finally, it is also highly recommended that you regularly Google your name to see what type of information may be publicly available to prospective employers.  Whether the information is good or bad, you should expect that an employer might ask you about information that comes up in Google.  If you know what information about you exists online, you will be much better prepared to discuss this information during an interview, if questioned.

Ani Kington Ani Kington

Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Ani is a fan of exploring new places through photography and the local cuisine. After earning her BFA in photography from NYU and gaining communications experience at International Planned Parenthood Federation, she joined InterExchange in 2012, and worked as the Marketing Producer until 2016.

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U.S. Department of State-Designated J-1 Visa Sponsor
Alliance for International Exchange
Exclusive partner of the Erasmus Student Network for J-1 Visa sponsorship of internships in the U.S.
European-American Chamber of Commerce New York
Generation Study Abroad
Global Ties U.S.
International Au Pair Association
WYSE Travel Confederation