Pursuing a Career in Communications? Evaluate Your Social Media Feeds

By: Blaire Knight-Graves, DePaul University web content producer

What used to be a wild and vast frontier of aliases, browser histories that could be scrubbed, and avatars as personal representations has shifted into a world where personal branding on social media and public identity are an essential part of the professional toolkit—even as early as your career begins in the entry-level space. If you want to pursue a job in one of the various fields held under the umbrella of communications, consider taking the opportunity to evaluate your social media feeds based on the following personal social media skills.

Clean up the feed.

It goes without saying, but our feeds are generally filled with memes, viral videos, long sentimental posts, pictures of food and entertainment, and articles dissecting pop culture, politics or local events. Personal feeds may also feature something deeper—pictures of raucous parties, angry rants, opinions from five or more years ago, and diverging opinions on even the blandest of topics. Both of these feeds are intrinsically tied to your name when someone decides to look you up on a search engine. Believe it or not, hiring managers pay attention to this stuff, and make informed decisions based on personal research during the candidate selection process. I can think of at least three separate instances where I didn’t take on an intern because I didn’t like what I found on his/her Twitter or YouTube accounts. Brand perception now runs deeper than the messaging and marketing itself—in the eyes of the public, employees can — and often do — represent the values of a business, and a business needs to have digitally exemplary employees. So, when you’re applying to jobs, ask yourself if your feed can be used against you, and clean up accordingly.

Learn to lurk and digest, then react.

The Internet is a hot bed of opinions. Discourse is encouraged on most platforms—Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and even the comment section of your local news source. But as discussed above, sometimes it’s best just to pay attention to the discourse and nod or shake your head as you scroll through your feed instead of reacting, no matter how tempting the topic may be. If you really want to join in on the conversation, force yourself to sit on your idea for 15 minutes or longer before typing a response to or “liking” someone else’s post.

It’s also worth mentioning here that the groups that you belong to on Facebook can sometimes be viewed publicly, or your comments in “private” groups can still be screen grabbed and posted for the world to see. Keep that in mind before taking part in difficult discourse.

If you’re going to post, pick your personal niche and stick with it like it’s a brand.

Finding a little niche on the Internet and sticking to it is my most recommended method of personally using social media. Whether you love food, television, film, travel, fashion, makeup or power tools—pick a hobby and have that dominate the posts you put in your feed. Now, of course your personal brand doesn’t have to exclusively feature stylized photos of pasta and smoothies, but once you’ve picked your niche try to keep your posts in that realm 75% of the time. My personal niche is my love of television and film, and all things geek culture, but yours might be fitness and nature. Whatever you pick, try to make an intentional effort to stick with it for at least six months. Not only will you be playing it safe, you’ll also start building a community with the same interests and learn some additional branding skills along the way.

Don’t “Vaguebook” or “Subtweet.”

This rule is short and simple. Don’t vaguely post your bad thoughts about other people while omitting their names, and consider not posting bad thoughts about anyone at all. You never know if you’re going to hurt someone’s feelings or if you might be eliminating an opportunity to network in the future. Professionals who pay attention to others in their field won’t want to take the risk of networking with you if they fear you’re a busy body on the web. I’ve said no to coffee with other professionals over subtweeting because I didn’t think it was worth the risk of ending up in their feed, and you don’t want that to happen to you.

A picture’s worth a thousand words, and so is your avatar.

There’s a balance between being professional and having a personal life. You shouldn’t feel like every profile photo has to be you’re LinkedIn headshot, but you also shouldn’t post a profile picture with anything that could be deemed controversial. Think about your profile picture or avatar within the context of your personal story, and what that tells the world. You could be in a blouse and slacks while at a cocktail bar, hiking with messy hair and an unwashed face, swimming in the lake, or maybe you’re kissing your significant other on the cheek. All of these tell the outside world something about how you live your life, and none of them are bad. In your profile picture you should look warm, welcoming and as though your interests matter to you. Having clean social media doesn’t mean that you can’t have or project a personal life with your own interests, and an avatar is a perfect place to start.

Your Guide to Connecting with Alumni on Linkedin

By: Gracie Covarrubias, DePaul University organizational and multicultural communication major ’18 and Career Center communications assistant

Scoping out potential contacts on LinkedIn can feel like a never-ending quest—the options are literally endless. There is, however, an art to finding that perfect connection on LinkedIn and sparking a conversation. Check out our guide to connecting with alumni on LinkedIn.

The Search

Crafting a LinkedIn search requires a few critical filters. Start off by typing in ‘DePaul University’ in the search bar. Once you’ve clicked on DePaul’s official page, click on the ‘see alumni’ button and you will be presented with a detailed breakdown of alumni interests, places of employment and fields of study.

Now it’s time to narrow your search. DePaul University’s Alumni Sharing Knowledge (ASK) Associate Director Leslie Chamberlain has a few pointers for students:

“Decide why you’re looking to connect with alumni. If you’re looking to explore a specific field or if there’s a city you’d like to be in, this is going to influence the keywords in your search for connections.”

Once you’ve used a couple of keywords and identified a potential connection, it’s time to actually hit the ‘connect’ button and send a message.

The Ask

This initial message is key to ensuring you get a response. Leslie advises that your message follows this classic, business outline: Them. You. Time-Bound.

Let’s break that down.

Them: Your first line should be a sentence about them, recognizing a particular involvement or position that caught your interest. For example, you could say, “your work as a social media analyst with the American Red Cross looks exciting.”

You: Your next two sentences should introduce you and provide some background. Think of it as a shortened elevator pitch. For example, you might say, “as a current public relations student at DePaul, I’m interested in working in the nonprofit sector. I’ve had the opportunity to take courses where I’ve constructed social media campaigns for companies and I’m looking to expand my knowledge in this sphere.”

Time-Bound: Finally, your last sentence should be time-bound to solidify a time to talk. “Fifteen to twenty minutes is the perfect amount of time to ask for. It’s enough time to get a feel for the person. If you vibe with the connection really well you can always ask for a follow-up meeting and if you don’t then you’re not trapped in a long conversation,” Leslie explained.  For example, you could say, “I would love to chat with you about your experiences as an analyst. Would you be available to talk over the phone for 15-20 minutes sometime in the next two weeks?”

The Follow-Up

Once you’ve sent the message and had the opportunity to talk over the phone, follow up with a simple thank you message.

This thank you should follow the Past. Present. Future. outline. First, acknowledge your previous interaction with a simple line, such as, “thank you for taking time out of your day to discuss your career.”

Next, bring up an insight they mentioned that you’re going to take action on. For example, “I picked up a copy of the branding book you mentioned and I’m looking forward to reading it.”

Finally, if you’ve really hit it off, the future portion of this thank you should be focused on a second meeting. For example, you might ask, “could I reach out to you next month? I’d like to talk to you about this book once I’ve finished it.” If you didn’t quite hit it off, a simple, “I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors,” will work.

Easy as that! Connecting with alumni is a great way to learn more about your industry and develop a mentorship with someone who shares common interests. Curious about other ways that alumni can help you? Check out the Alumni Sharing Knowledge network for more information on connecting with alumni.

Key Characteristics, Skills a Social Media Professional Needs

Social media has become an integral part of practically every company’s marketing strategy. In an ever-evolving field, companies rely on cutting edge professionals to manage their social media platforms, engage with consumers, and build their brand. If you ever thought that working in social media sounded intriguing, but were unsure how to get started, then you are in the right place.

In order to find a job in social media, it’s important to first understand exactly what a social media coordinator does. Will you be getting paid to hang out on Facebook and Twitter all day? Well…yes, but there is definitely more to it than that. You’ll be managing a company’s social media presence across multiple platforms, most commonly Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and LinkedIn. You’ll be responsible for creating and writing interesting and original content on a daily basis, researching audience metrics, and possibly developing other non-written content, including video and audio clips. You’ll also be directly engaging with your audience and looking for ways to expand your brand’s following. You may be asked to find creative ways to build that brand through promotions, contests, or whatever else you can come up with.

Now that you know what working in social media actually means, let’s take a look at some key characteristics or skills you’ll need to get noticed by an employer.

Social media buff and content creator:

If you want to be a company’s social media coordinator, you need to have an impressive social media profile. The first thing an employer will do after receiving your application is review your social media accounts. If your personal social media platforms are stagnant, poorly written or unprofessional, then why would a company trust you to manage their own social media presence? You need to show that you can write original content, engage with your followers, and stay updated on trends in social media.

Tech-savvy trendsetter with a killer instinct for community engagement:

There are a lot of great ways to use social media to your advantage, but for breaking into the field of social media marketing specifically, you should focus on writing original posts, following influencers and actively engaging with those already working in the field. Retweet and reply to posts and articles written by social media professionals in order to start building relationships with people. Make sure you stay well informed on new social media platforms, and know how to use new features that get rolled out on existing services. Remember to use a variety of platforms rather than just one or two. Employers want to see that you are a tech-savvy trendsetter who is eager to learn about and use the latest and greatest tools that are out there.

Guided by analytics, metrics and KPIs:

Consider familiarizing yourself with data utilization software and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Free services like Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, and Twitter Analytics provide detailed breakdowns of your audience and how they are engaging with the social media platforms you run. Make sure you understand not just how they work, but what they actually measure – such as post engagement, impressions, reach, demographics and follower growth.

Designer and blogger:

Market yourself as a jack-of-all-trades; become adept at photo and video editing, some basic html coding, and WordPress. The more you’re capable of doing, the more trust and responsibility you’ll ultimately be given.

Most importantly, you should constantly be writing. If you don’t already have a blog, consider starting one. The more you write, the sharper your writing will become. And, in a field where your primary function is to write clearly and concisely, a large stockpile of writing samples will be your ultimate key to success.

These tips provide a great way to kickstart your career goals, but there is always more to learn. If you have any lingering questions or you’ve done all of the above and want to know what to do next, make an appointment with your DePaul career advisor today!

Google Yourself. Are You Proud?

By: Caitlin Chismark, DePaul University PR and advertising major ’18 and Career Center networking events intern

We’ve all searched for ourselves online to see what links, photos and videos come up, but what if an employer searched your name?

Remember, first impressions matter. LinkedIn isn’t the only website where we need to maintain a professional presence. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and even Pinterest are all key channels where you need to keep your image healthy. By cleaning up your Google results, you will be ready for employers to see your online image.

Consider these suggestions for keeping your online presence protected and professional:

Twitter: Go into “Security and Privacy in Settings, and check the “Protect my Tweets” box. This restricts users from viewing or retweeting what you post, and forces them to request to follow you before they can see future posts. Know this, though; tweets that you posted previously when your account was public will still be visible to some users and in some places.

Facebook: Dive into the privacy settings and protect your identity and posts. Make sure your profile is free from inappropriate content and photos; if a friend tags you in a post or photo that you wouldn’t want an employer to see, kindly ask them to untag you and/or delete the material. Keep in mind that although your profile is private, what you post on the Internet is out there, permanently. Be smart, and always ask yourself, “does this need to be on the Internet?”

Instagram: Make sure your account is private unless using it strictly professionally; i.e. you are a photographer or designer and want to show off your images or graphics. Much like Twitter, users will have to request to follow you with your privacy settings on. It seems simple, but don’t post anything on Instagram that you wouldn’t want an employer or family member to see. If you have to question it, it’s probably not worth it to post.

Pinterest: Keep your boards clean. Pinterest isn’t a website that you’d think can affect your online presence, but it is. It’s another platform out there with your name on it. When you do a Google search of your name, click on images. If you have Pinterest boards, you may notice that pins you have saved are included in the results of your search. This can be scary if you used Pinterest five years ago and only saved pins of your favorite “hot celebrities.” To fix this, you can remove pins and create private boards.

Keeping your online image fresh and clean is important because of the role social media and the Internet play in recruiting. It’s time to put on a new, professional face. If you want to learn more about how to safeguard your online presence and maintain professionalism on your social channels, meet with a career advisor; they have all kinds of tips and tricks up their sleeve.

 

DePaul Diaries: Life as a Media & Photography Intern

By: Renee Radzom, DePaul University graduate, former University Internship Program (UIP) assistant

DePaul Diaries is a day-in-the-life blog series written by DePaul students. The series unveils DePaulians’ experiences as interns in their field of choice. Students share their honest thoughts about their experiences, what they learned as an intern and advice for students who are interested in the same field.


Gianna Vitallo, a senior interested in the television industry, challenged herself by taking on three different internships throughout the school year. Gianna had a TV internship with Violet Media where she gained transferable skills. She was then able to use these new skills at her other two internships, which were at CBS’s B96 Morning Radio Show and Gerber + Scarpelli Photography.

“I learned how to make a production go smoothly and also how to appeal to an audience,” Gianna said. “For example, at B96, I always had to end each social media post with a question. They wanted their fans to be able to respond to a post with their own personal experiences.”

All three internships challenged Gianna with hands-on responsibilities. At B96 and Gerber + Scarpelli, she regularly updated the companies’ social media accounts. At B96, she also operated the “Vox Pro” to monitor sound levels and made edits to the show. At Gerber + Scarpelli, Gianna was given the opportunity to assist with wedding shoots.

Additionally, at Violet Media, Gianna participated in mock pitch sessions and presented ideas for television shows, which is a standard practice in the industry. Afterwards, she received feedback on her creativity and presentation skills from an executive producer.

“My favorite part is getting into a rhythm of what I need to do. The start of each internship was hard, but once I knew what I was supposed to do and how I was supposed to do it, I was much more excited,” Gianna explained.

Gianna didn’t just work at her internships – she received credit for all of them. “The first class I took was the UIP: 250 course called You, Your Work, and the World. I would definitely recommend this course. The professor was amazing and I made a great portfolio in that class,” Gianna said. “As a digital cinema major, I am almost always asked for a reel when applying for jobs or internships. This website [portfolio] had them all in one place and it looked very professional.”

After taking the UIP class, Gianna took independent study courses to earn elective credit for the other two internships.

All three of Gianna’s internships were unpaid, but her last internship at Gerber + Scarpelli catapulted into an opportunity to work on a contract basis taking pictures for weddings over the summer. As a result of this year, Gianna has become an internship pro. She’s gained more knowledge on how to search for and apply to jobs, how to impress colleagues through her work ethic, punctuality and creativity, and how to make the most of her experiences. She even learned how to better manage her time by balancing her internship with school, friends, and her job as a desk receptionist at DePaul Housing Services.

When it comes to advice for handling all these responsibilities, Gianna said, “Don’t be afraid to mess up. Learning from your failures is extremely important.”


Want to learn more about DePaul’s University Internship Program? Check it out, here, or send inquiries to UIP@depaul.edu. Need help finding an internship? Visit depaul.joinhandshake.com, or come into DePaul’s Career Center to meet with an advisor.

DePaul Diaries: Life as a Multimedia Intern

By: Renee Radzom, DePaul University graduate, former University Internship Program (UIP) assistant

DePaul Diaries is a day-in-the-life blog series written by DePaul students. The series unveils DePaulians’ experiences as interns in their field of choice. Students share their honest thoughts about their experiences, what they learned as an intern and advice for students who are interested in the same field.


Emily Goedken, an Animation major, recently completed a graphic design internship at Geater Machining and Manufacturing, Co. (GMM). In her role as a graphic design intern, Emily had the opportunity to create print projects, video campaigns and work with Geater’s Student Outreach program. Although Emily started out as graphic design intern, her role quickly expanded; she was offered the role as a multimedia intern. Emily said some of her favorite projects were developing YouTube videos and designing T-shirts.

Emily had a lot to say about her experiences at GMM, but she said her favorite aspect was the “company atmosphere.”

“I grew up down the street from GMM and never really knew what they did,” Emily explained. “Now I know they made a part that went into space, [they make] the radio bodies that keep our military personnel safe…and, almost every new Boeing 747 contains a few GMM parts. It’s really neat to be involved with a company whose parts span not only the globe, but also space.”

During her internship, Emily said she learned how to analyze existing multimedia programs and write proposals on how to improve them. Ultimately, she had the opportunity to create materials for a company in an industry she previously had no knowledge of and was thankful for the chance to try new things!

Perseverance is Key:

Originally, Emily had applied to a different position at GMM, but was not accepted. However, she kept in contact with the company, and was later informed about the graphic design role. Emily didn’t let her past attempt deter her, and applied for the new position. Her initiative and continued interest in the company gave her an advantage when applying for the second position. If you’re really interested in working for a company, don’t give up even if you aren’t offered the first position you apply for. Remember, employers take into account your interest and continued efforts, and may just contact you when they see a new position open up.

Corporate Social Responsibility:

Coupled with her great experience at GMM, Emily took UIP 254: Corporate Social Responsibility. In the class, she “learned about how companies contribute to their communities and the world, for better or worse.” Emily would recommend this course to other students; it can open your eyes to how companies give back to their communities. 

Lessons Learned:

Emily said her one piece of advice for future interns is to experience new avenues. This will help you decide what career path and industry to work in long-term.

It’s important to keep in mind that even manufacturing or finance companies, for example, have use for a graphic design intern or a social media manager. It’s great to branch out and see how different companies and industries operate!


Want to learn more about DePaul’s University Internship Program? Check it out, here, or send inquiries to UIP@depaul.edu. Need help finding an internship? Visit depaul.joinhandshake.com, or come into DePaul’s Career Center to meet with an advisor.