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Intern Diaries: The Importance Of Being Online- The Right Way!

I can’t believe I’m already in my third week of my internship. I’ve gotten the opportunity to do and learn a lot more since the last time I wrote. Recently, I got to actually sit in with one of the sweetest on-air personalities ever and see how it all works behind the scenes! It was very eye opening to get to see how radio broadcasting works in the real world.

One of the most interesting things I found out, however, is that having a job as an on air-personality means a whole lot more than just talking on the radio.  Part of your job is building a loyal listener base, and to do that, you have to be more than just a recognizable voice.  You have to have personality and really connect with your listeners.

As you can imagine, doing this over a bunch of airwaves has its limits.  Sure, you can spend hours talking about your love for food or exercise-but you really don’t get much time to talk in between all of the music!

So, how do these on-air personalities reach out to their fans?  You’ve probably already guessed- online!  And honestly, this is just another reason why I think their jobs are the coolest.  Facebook pages, Twitter handles, and blogging are all the rage right now,  More and more, media professionals are using the Internet to make a name for themselves and connect with their listeners.  In fact, most on-air jobs in the radio or television industry require you to maintain some type of personality page on the Web.

I’ve learned that it’s important to maintain a professional, yet engaging online presence.  Doing so can increase your networking opportunities, make you stand out from other applicants when you apply for jobs, and of course, give yourself a chance to put yourself out there.  Here are some of the things I’ve learned at work and in college when it comes to being online.

1. Maintain a Blog

Though I’ve yet to try anything she’s made, I’ve heard from multiple sources that my supervisor is an excellent cook.  Even though she mostly does behind-the-scenes web and graphics work, she keeps a cute blog (currently under construction) that features recipes and DYI projects.  Consider starting a blog yourself!  You don’t have to go above and beyond and try to write about topics you’re not familiar with- start small, and concentrate on your interests.  Really into movies?  Start writing your own reviews of new releases and old favorites.  Enjoy exercise?  Write about your experiences and favorite routines. If it’s one thing I’ve learned about the media industry, it’s that you need to know how to write- even if you’re aiming to end up on air.  Keeping a blog not only shows potential employers that you have writing skills, but it can also set you aside from the competition.  Some good places to start are Wordpress.com or Blogger.com.

Blogging is a great way to write about what you love and share with people, which can include employers.

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2. Use Twitter In A New Way

Collegiettes, take note: Twitter can be used as more than just an outlet for you to write about your love for Ryan Gosling.  If lately you’ve been feeling bored with Twitter, consider re-vamping your handle.  Start to follow media professionals and companies that interest you (or companies that you may want to work for some day!)  Don’t be shy about re-tweeting anything interesting you may see, or even reaching out and asking some insightful questions.  Look into joining “chats” with other media professionals, like @wjchat, a chat for web journalists that meets online every Wednesday at 5 p.m. PDT.  Go beyond reporting what you had for lunch, and start tweeting about things that really interest you. Just be aware that if you start following professionals, some of them may request to follow you back.  If you post a lot of inappropriate things on your account, you may want to consider cleaning up your tweets.

Worried your current handle is a little too personal and wouldn’t feel comfortable with strangers reading your tweets?  There’s nothing wrong with creating another handle for the purpose of following professionals!  You can keep your personal account to just connect with friends.

Follow professional accounts and businesses and companies that you're interested.  As a side note, also follow these radio stations and personalities.  Because they are awesome.

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3. Create a Website

“Does she seriously think I have time to figure out how to make my own website?”  I bet that’s what some of you are thinking right now.  Okay, so it may be a bit daunting to start from scratch, but the good news is that you don’t have to!  Remember how I mentioned Wordpress.com?  Well, you can actually use your Wordpress blog as a website!  Creating a website to promote yourself and your interests is a great way to get an employer’s attention.  There are probably a million different ways to make your own page, but I’m going to tell you how to make one on Wordpress.

Step 1: Create an account.  Simple, right?  Yeah, it gets a bit harder…
Step 2: Go to your Dashboard.  This is where you will be able to do a majority of your customization!  I like to create pages: it’s on the left-hand side, under…. “pages.”
Step 3: Create your pages.  You can make this whatever you would like to be.  On my website, I created a portfolio page to show my work, and then I created categories underneath that page.  You can show off videos you’ve created, any photographs or designs you’ve made, and you can even link to articles that you’ve gotten published online (Her Campus?!)  Thhis will take some trial and error. I had to teach myself how to navigate the Dashboard, but they have some great tutorials and most of the FAQ’s will answer any questions.  Mine is really out of date, but I will post it here for reference.  Just don’t laugh at some of my cheesy writing-

http://lsbaugh.wordpress.com/

And you can even create a tab with a link to download your resume, contact information or anything else you want! 

Take note: If you get serious, you can always upgrade to 'pro.'  It’s not free, but you can register your own domain and you’ll have more options to personalize your site.  Pretty cool, right?

Now you have a reason to fill out the “personal website” tab on LinkedIn!

Having your own website gives employers another chance to see what you've accomplished.

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But What About My Existing Profiles?

Alright, so we all have our personal Facebook and Twitter profiles.  And you know what?  We should. Employers know that we’re not robots, and you’re not expected to make sure that every single thing you put online somehow relates to your work and professional life.  With that being said, however, you shouldn't expect to put your entire life on display without experiencing repercussions.  Putting your personal accounts on “private” and then uploading anything you want is still a very, very risky move.  Here are some of my personal don’ts:

Don’t put up ANY pictures that would ever cast you in a bad light.  The Grandma rule is tried and true: if it’s something you wouldn’t want your elders seeing, you best leave it off the Internet.  This means that any inappropriate photos are totally off limits for Facebook and Twitter- EVEN if your account is private.  About a month ago, I Googled myself because I was bored and wanted to see what came up (the shame.)  Just for fun, I clicked on the pictures tab, and was SHOCKED when one of my profile pictures from Facebook came up.  My Facebook has been private ever since I first signed up, and the picture I saw was from two years ago.  Even creepier: it was uploaded to some random website that I had never even heard of in my life.  I still have no idea what the website even is.  Case in point: don’t trust the privacy settings.  You never know who could be looking at or saving things you post.  Once it’s on the Internet, it is out there forever.

Don’t post strident political or offensive beliefs.  Now don’t get me wrong here: I’m not suggesting you shouldn't have opinions.  I’m not even suggesting that you refrain from commenting on how you hate that new Katy Perry song.  What I am suggesting, however, is to refrain from going on a political tirade that is so long, it reaches the Facebook status character limit.  First of all, you never know who could be reading what you write.  You may end up ruining a professional connection or offending a potential employer.  Secondly, even if you may not offend an individual, you still come off looking like a very angry person- and who wants to be around an angry person?  Think positively when it comes to social media, and stay away from negative topics or hot button issues.  One of my professors told me that she was going to hire a student to help her with a summer research project, but immediately changed her mind when she saw the student post some harsh political status on Facebook.  Better be safe than sorry!


Boyfriend drama?
  Step away from the keyboard.  Even I can admit that it’s super tempting after a break up to write up a “vague” status about how “certain people” are terrible human beings who need to grow up.  But this is a definite social networking don’t.  Aside from making a majority of your friends seriously think about deleting you, statuses like these make an impression that you’re the type of person to get caught up in drama and trash-talking- both of which aren’t professional material.  Less is more with social media.  Don’t post confrontational and emotionally charged statuses, and don’t call certain individuals out in your posts.  Let’s be honest: sub-tweets are never really that vague, are they?

And finally

Think Twice before adding a co-worker or boss on your personal accounts.  I try to follow a rule when I add people on Facebook.  If I find myself seriously hesitating before clicking the “add friend” button, chances are, I shouldn’t be adding them.  If you do decide to make the connection official, make sure you don’t have anything up that you wouldn’t want them seeing- like the album of that 80’s party you went to freshmen year.  Come to think of it, why is that album even still up?~

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Laura Baugh

Virginia Tech

Laura Baugh is a senior at Virginia Tech where she is double majoring in Communications and Film. When not busy with school, Laura enjoys editing film and video, being the general manager at VTTV, spending time with her amazing sisters in Gamma Phi Beta, playing her guitar, and reading Her Campus! She is also obsessed with her school's athletics. Go Hokies!
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