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Social Media, Internships and Everything In Between

Yes, the rumors are true: social media matters, and your employers are stalking you.

Now more than ever, young applicants’ social media accounts are being scrutinized during the hiring process, whether it’s a full-time position or an unpaid internship.

Once upon a time, our profiles used to only carry the pressure of impressing friends — presenting ourselves as the coolest possible version of ourselves. But now, as companies attempt to reach newer and younger audiences through these explosive online platforms, our virtual selves are working overtime. Now, there isn’t just pressure to impress peers, but your next boss as well.

“Social media is one of the best ways to promote yourself as an applicant,” Maggie Maloney, an NYU alum and social media editor at Hearst, said.

Maloney cited the necessity of maintaining platforms like LinkedIn and Instagram as these are the go-to profiles that employers seek to paint a picture of how you present yourself to the world. She undercut the social giant, Facebook, as it is more personal. She said she wouldn’t look up an applicant on Facebook.

It is invaluable to keep your essential profiles constantly updated, to appear fully fleshed out rather than two-dimensional, or forgettable. Some simple edits like creating a personal URL, which is free on LinkedIn, writing a biography and updating feeds to showcase current work or projects go a long way when presenting your best self online.

The necessity to maintain a clean online presence has led to one of the most interesting phenomena of modern media — the finsta. More and more job seekers have created these separate accounts that differentiate between their casual and professional selves. A dichotomy — the conscious categorization of facets of life — that shows a trained and ingrained skill of our generation: we know how we want to be perceived, but also how we should be perceived.

This leads many applicants to hide the most interesting parts of themselves. A huge mistake.

Showing some raw truth is actually a great way to stand out in a crowd. Include personal commentary in tweets; don’t just stay neutral. Publish (appropriate) photos of yourself and your friends on Instagram. What concert were you at Saturday night? How good were those street cart tacos you found? Employers want to see you, not the watered-down, corporate version because they’ll see enough of that in your resume or the interview.

The social media skillset curated by our generation is proving to be more valuable than ever not only for these companies to reach an audience, but for us, the future industry, to even qualify for job experience. So use it to your advantage, get your foot in the door, then take the world by storm.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Nov. 13 print edition. Email Emily Conklin at [email protected].

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