Social networking sites: friend or foe?

By Colleen Vest

While social networking can be beneficial for forming career connections, students must be cautious about what information is posted online for the world to see.

“I’ve heard stories of another adviser from another university whose daughter’s job as an intern was to be on Facebook and do research on potential hires,” Pipkins said.

Most employers do not advertise using social networks to monitor prospective employees, but that does not mean they do not keep track, Pipkins said.

“I would imagine companies use Facebook to check up on people,” said Megan Hanrahan, freshman in Business.

Bienias disagrees with companies using Facebook to monitor and research employees.

“Facebook and social networks are to keep in contact with friends and family, so I think companies are defeating the purpose of these sites,” she said.

Students need to be aware of applications and privacy settings before posting, Pipkins said. Pictures, profile pictures and wall posts are of the most concern, she added.

Students should search Google, GoogleImage, and technorati to see what is out there about themselves, she said. Technorati.com has a search to show all blogs where a certain name appears.

“I have stories of students not getting into medical school because there were pictures of them drinking, or students not getting part-time jobs because they were flipping someone off in their profile picture,” Pipkins said.

Almost anyone could be a future employer, so students need to be aware, she continued.

“I will definitely look carefully about what I keep on Facebook,” Bienias said. “I am going to go through and delete things before applying for jobs.”

While some students are more cautious about their online posting, others are not as concerned.

“I make sure not to post anything bad,” Hanrahan said. “So, I’m not too worried and don’t plan on deleting my profile.”

Students need to be especially careful with wall postings, Pipkins said. Once it is online, anyone has access and can manipulate pictures or comments.

“You never know who your future employer might be,” Pipkins said. “If you don’t want (them) to see it, or you wouldn’t want your grandma to see it, keep it off the Internet.”