The following post is part of an ongoing series that focuses on professional development issues that are important for undergraduate researchers to consider.
Thinking About Your Online Academic Identity
As nascent scholars, undergraduate researchers should begin to think about their online identity as it relates to their professional development early on in their academic careers. A recent post by Kelli Marshall in the Chronicle Vitae discusses this subject at length, and while her target audience is current faculty, lecturers, and higher education administrators, the lessons of her post should be heeded by undergraduate students as well.
“In a nutshell, if you do not have a clear online presence, you are allowing Google, Yahoo, and Bing to create your identity for you.”
As Ms. Marshall explains, “[…] if you do not have a clear online presence, you are allowing Google, Yahoo, and Bing to create your identity for you.” For many current undergraduate researchers this topic may not seem all that important at the moment, but when it comes time to apply for competitive research opportunities, internships, prestigious fellowships, scholarships, graduate schools, and other employment opportunities, selection committees will be looking at much more than your carefully crafted resume (BTW – it is very important to have a concise and visually pleasing resume – see the UO Career Center for help). They will be looking for any information that can help them differentiate between multiple, similarly qualified candidates, and one of the simplest ways to get this information is a quick Google search.
Thankfully there is much advice and guidance available on this subject and the actions you can take are relatively straightforward. And while these steps do require dedicating a decent chunk of time and effort towards completing, the rewards of doing so are significant. As a bonus, the steps you take may also reveal creative outlets, such as a creating a website or blog, that you never thought to explore. Start by reading through Marshall’s guidance on taking control, building a network, practicing uniformity, and monitoring yourself, then consider reading a 2010 lifehacker article for more information on the topic.