Professionalizing Your Digital Identity

A few years ago, I googled myself and saw a very old photo from my early college days when I went on a trip to Ireland. I worked about 60 hours a week in a kitchen to pay my way to see a beautiful country and have the time of my life. The photo was from a night out with my mates, and while there was nothing wrong with it, it gave the world a little insight into some very personal information. It was a pixelated image of me with a huge smile on my face (not so bad, right?) and a girlfriend kissing me on the cheek. I’m bisexual. While that’s something most people in my circles know about me, it’s not something I feel comfortable sharing–especially in that highly visible way–with the world, especially not potential employers when I go on the job market who might be judgmental or worse.

How could I take it down? Well, the problem was that I had put it up. It was my very old profile photo from a My Space account that I had created in my bold days as a 19-year-old. I had a different email address (one I no longer use at all) and different logic for creating passwords back then, so there was no way I could log in to My Space and take it down. Well, it turns out Google has a very generous policy for taking photos off the internet, so I sent them a message, explaining that the content was sensitive and they took it down within 24 hours. Now, if you google me, the photos that pop up do not include that one.

I grew up in the days of dial-up when you would start up AOL and go get a soda before you could actually get online. My 14-year-old self had no idea that a screen name like “FuzzyWuzzy1417” might not be appropriate 10 years later. No one knew then how sticky information on the internet could be, and no one taught me how to be strategic. Remember Live Journal? [Face-palm] Oh, how I poured out my heart to the great big interweb, which I thought was just a void!

So, now I am more than twice that age, I have finally mastered my online presence after reading article after article and consulting with others. On March 1st, from 12 to 2 PM, in Room 9204 at the Graduate Center, I am leading a workshop called “Professionalizing Your Digital Identity” to share what I’ve learned.

This event will begin with a simple activity: clear your cache, or open a browser you never use, and google your name. Are you happy with what you see? Take this opportunity to think about what a search committee sees when they google you. We’ll talk about developing a personal website, increasing clicktivity, what you can and cannot control on the internet, debates about using LinkedIn and, and how to use Twitter to develop a professional network. 

Hope to see you there!


The Futures Initiative
The Graduate Center, CUNY
365 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10016-4309