Column: Be good (Or at least make your potential employers think you are)

By Joseph Lamberson

Don’t worry, man… it’s college!”

I’ve heard these words more times than I can stand. In the bar, on the Quad and even here, in the newsroom, people believe that the bad decisions we make while in college will somehow be washed away when we receive our degrees. This, sadly, isn’t the case at all.

The probably stupid, but incredibly fun things we do may last for minutes in our minds, but in the era of Google, they will haunt us for years online. Even if you don’t remember that party last night, I’m positive that Facebook will. Can’t figure out why your friends are giggling about you? Maybe you should check their MySpaces. I’m willing to gamble that future employers will.

Yes, Google can teach someone a lot about the things you would rather the world forgot, and that can cause problems when a job requires a background check.

Furthermore, many criminal charges you may incur from your exploits will appear in files and records for years to come. These improprieties don’t just fall with underage drinking either. Plenty of 21-year-olds do stupid things when completely sober, and before they become a problem with employers, these indiscretions could easily become an issue with the University. Oh, and for personal reference, the Daily Illini has a strict policy about removing your information from any regrettable article that we run during your University tenure. Give an unfavorable quote about your impending alcoholism? Mention your love for gambling or stealing road signs? If it hits the paper, it’s there forever. And thanks to our online archives at, that rejection e-mail is only a few clicks away.

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    The advice applies offline as well: Drinking with alumni is rarely a good idea. Yes, I realize that the guy who came to speak to your class is now willing to buy you drinks, but what if you will eventually have to interview with his company? Even worse, what if you have to interview with him? The vivid memory of you taking an Irish car bomb (or five) at Murphy’s is something that sticks with a future employer. Trust me, I’d know.

    I’m not trying to take the fun out of college, because I’m just as stupid as the next senior when it comes to skipping class (most of last week) and imbibing too much alcohol (five Irish car bombs). What I am encouraging is that people maintain the presence of mind to know that your actions have consequences now and in the future.

    Use your years here at this University well, and cherish them forever, but please don’t share those memories with the world.

    Untag the drunk photos on Facebook, ask your friends to keep your full name out of the blog and, for God’s sake, try not to get arrested. Also, if you absolutely have to drink with an alumnus, do it responsibly. Try not to be the kid who pounded shots and puked (or, better yet, get the alumnus to do that) and you may actually have something that you can use later.

    All in all, be smart about your safety and your future, and be mindful of how you’re presented to an employer before you’ve even had a chance to talk to them. Life moves faster than you can imagine, don’t let one night’s choice slow you down.