By Cecilia Luna Within the first few months of college, it’ll become clear the importance of social media and that social media plays a much bigger role than simply sharing selfies with your friends. Unlike our generation, previous generations of college grads probably didn’t use their Twitter handle or Facebook page on resumes, or as a form of contact information. I’ve even had the experience of having to include my Instagram page on a job application! Just as times change, so do our interactions with one another. You’ll probably be starting to apply for jobs at this point in your life, and nowadays all it takes is a Google search of your name for an employer to find out all about you. Not only do employers look at your social media profiles, but so do college professors. So it’s your job to make sure the results reflect you positively! Take a look why knowing the importance of social media is vital. Don’t be this guy Though it may feel like an invasion of privacy, remember that what you post online is almost always public in some way or another. One of my professors once told our class that he searched all of our names on Facebook before the semester even began, just to get a feel of who we are. This is not as uncommon as you may think, either! What does Twitter have to do with my classes? It’s actually not unusual for professors to have a Twitter or Facebook page created specifically for the classes they teach. Some professors even create their own hashtag for a course, making it easier to discuss topics that may not have been covered in a lecture with over 150 students in attendance. In more than a few of my classes, one requirement for interacting outside of class and receiving updates was having a Facebook account in order to keep up with the course group or to “like” the page created for it. Social media is critical for many top majors Depending on your major, too, the importance of social media is crucial. As a public relations major, I quickly realized the importance of social media and how my online presence would be for my field of study. If your major has anything to do with communication, marketing, even business — it’s important to keep social media’s importance in mind. This past semester, I took a course called Multimedia Writing. Not only was Twitter the most effective way to follow our instructor’s plans for lecture each day, but it was a part of our grade! Yes, you read that right. A portion of our grade relied on how well we tweeted and presented ourselves online in 140 characters or less. We were even graded on our profile photos and professional presentation. Now, this may not always be the case for other majors, but it’s just a small example of the importance of social media in college. Tips for a great social media profile The rules for maintaining a professional social media presence are quite easy, actually. While nobody should feel restricted in expressing themselves through their social networks, these forms of expressions should remain positive. When it comes to the importance of social media in work, if there’s a possibility that a potential employer could see your posts by searching online, then it’s probably a good idea to untag yourself from those Facebook photos of you last weekend getting wasted with your friends. The same goes for posts containing any suspicious-looking activity, or complaints about school or work. After a hard day of classes or work, it’s tempting to go online and write about the horrible day you had, or vent frustrations to your inner circle of online friends. However, it’s best not to fall into this trap. Try not to be so quick to publicly say things about your instructors or employers who could potentially see these tweets or posts. Even if you don’t specifically name them or the course, publicly stating frustrations just isn’t the way to resolve your grievances. Not only do critical posts reflect poorly on you, but also reflect poorly on your attitude in the long run. Employers want to know the person they’re hiring is a team player and willing to work hard without complaining. Don’t: Create an entirely new account. Separate accounts end up looking sketchier than just cleaning up your original one. Creating a new account only reinforces the idea that you have something to hide.Go off the grid. Just like creating a new account isn’t productive, neither is deleting everything altogether. Employers look at your social media to learn more about who you are, and without it you’re not accessible or personable. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all The same basic rule applies to social media. If what you’re about to post could possibly be problematic, it’s best to rethink posting it at all. While personal interaction and merit are the most relevant ways to evaluate a student/employee, that doesn’t mean that knowing who you are outside of the classroom or workplace isn’t also important. Make sure it’s just as great as you are! About the author Cecilia will give us an inside look at a day in the life of a college student, sharing her journey with us every step of the way. She’s a second-year public relations major at the University of Florida. Her hometown is in south Florida, in the small town of Clewiston, and she’s ready to make her mark. “Not only am I learning to adjust to a bigger city, but all of the adventures this big university brings along with it.” You can follow her adventures right here on Unigo!