Twitter Your Way to a College Internship

Since I’m being interviewed for a book written on career advice for recent college graduates, I called my sister Ashley this morning to see what she had to say. My sister is a junior at the University of Missouri where she is double majoring in Women’s/Gender Studies and Journalism.

We talked about outdated career advice and what advice is more realistic for the college graduates of 2009. We also talked about Ashley’s upcoming internship search and how she could get started. Talking to her made me realize how much has changed since I graduated only a few years ago in 2006. Here is some of the advice my career center gave me:

1. Take yourself off all social networking sites and never blog because it is unprofessional and could ruin your chances of getting a job and hurt your reputation.

2. Work at a very large company right out of school so that you have a big name on your resume. “You will be able to work anywhere once your next employer sees that name on your resume.”

3. You should stay at your first job for at least 3 years.

4. You will start out in your first job as being a just a number, your individualism, personal strengths and ideas do not matter so keep them to yourself.

This advice is total garbage for the graduates of 2009 and I completely disagree with all four points!

For this post, I am going to focus on correcting point #1: You MUST use social networking sites and the Internet to let others know about your skills, talents and passions. If you aren’t positioning yourself for others to see online, you are really missing out on great opportunities. How could someone offer you a great job or internship if they don’t know you exist?

images-21I bought my sister her own domain name,, for Christmas this morning and suggested that she put a bio, professional picture, resume, sites she likes, a blog and a portfolio of work she has done on her site. I also urged her to start using Twitter to connect with people who shared her interests and career goals. It is amazing how much Twitter “friends” are willing to help each other out in any way they can.

When joining first joining Twitter, use to search for people who are “tweeting” about things that you care about and then “follow” them so you can read what they have to say on a daily basis. It is also important to send out valuable tweets regularly on your area of interest or expertise and post interesting links so others can read them and share information.

Also, if you like someone’s blog, website, or tweets TELL THEM! Compliments go a long way in making connections and mentors.

Long gone are the days of finding an internship through the classified section of your local paper or even scoring a great opportunity through a huge career site. If you are looking to pursue an internship or job that is in line with your individual strengths, ideas and talents you will have to go get it on your own by reaching out to people like you online.

P.S.- Follow me on Twitter: ExecutiveVision and let me know what you think about this post!

4 responses to “Twitter Your Way to a College Internship

  1. Great post! I can’t believe the advice they gave you before. No social networking! That just sounds crazy in today’s world.

    That’s an awesome Christmas gift by the way. I hope she enjoys it!

  2. I love this post! You are so dead-on. I’m a 2009 graduate also, and that kind of advice is exactly why I’ve stayed away from my university’s career center this year. Great tips — people definitely do need to use social networking sites to build their online presence. Too bad most college students, and career centers, don’t get that!

  3. Nicole,

    Your post is very intriguing to me and offers me an opportunity to stimulate the dialog from personal experience.

    Years ago a partner and I started a company with an office in the student union at a local university to provide a place for students to record video resume’s. We proudly shared our plans and how this was only the beginning of this great idea. We intended to franchise our brilliant idea. We had everything set, the equipment bought, the space committed, and a solid business plan in place before having a bomb dropped on us.

    We were told that major employers (at the time) had a system in place that stripped any photographs from employment submissions to avoid possible discrimination charges. The logic is that someone can say that they were not picked as a candidate because they are fat or thin, black or white, pretty or ugly, etc. Of course you eventually meet face-to-face further down the process during an interview but the point was that this initial appearance anonymity provided some protection from nuisance discrimination threats or legal action.

    The game has changed completely – even in the few years you mentioned. I am interested in hearing opinions about the dynamic and consequences of the blending of personal life and professional life facilitated by this increased exposure of the social web. Who thinks that, for example: party pictures on your old high school MySpace, family clowning-around photos from your Flickr, and your emo stage blog may color the way you are perceived as they appear in the same search results with your Linkedin profile. Once on the internet always on the internet in one form or another.

    I submit that there is an opportunity to start to shape the awareness of the permanence of your internet presence and how to best manage it. The social web is here to stay, it is new and dynamic, and your post is excellent in pointing out the new opportunities to use it. The purpose of my comment here is to open this discussion to some other dimensions.

  4. Great advice. It’s turning out that society is on its head and the older the person, the more useless the advice. Things are just changing too fast. When I meet a younger person, I don’t give them advice, but rather just let them tell me what they are doing. I learned a lot when I “mentored” high school students. In a way, they mentored me.

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