Creating an Online Resume

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September 18, 2017

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Quotation marks

This is great info, thanks for giving me some ideas on how to start a dialogue with my teen!


Sharon M.

Parent VIP Member

Quotation marks

Josh's presentation about social media was unbelievably fantastic. Our students learned so much about what kids should and shouldn't be doing. The fact that it is such a thoughtful process made it all worthwhile.


Director of College Advising

Educator Webinar Attendee

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This webinar is a very helpful eye-opener on the apps that are popular with my students.


Irene C.

Educator Webinar Attendee

Table of Contents

The overall goal of having an online resume is to showcase your engagement and characteristics through real life experiences. Instead of boring words on an application, your online resume can reveal video and photos of how you have made impacts in your life as well as others. The challenge is enticing the reviewer to take extra time to click and review your online resume as you intended.

In this resource you will see tips for students from different experts about creating an online resume.

Online resume tips from Sonja Montiel (video)

Key takeaways:

Creating an online resume for college prep key takeaways

  • Place online links directly on your college application including the activity lists, essays, and optional fields
  • Use social media to tell your college admissions story
  • Remember that a reviewer does not have time to see 3 videos of you doing the same activity

Utilize links on your resume

Place online links directly on your college application including the activity lists, essays, and optional fields. Do not repeat links in multiple areas of your application. Be thoughtful on where you decide to share your links.

Focus on one online platform

Keep it simple by using one universal online platform that hosts all of your positive online activity such as ZeeMee, Weebly or Wix. The college reader has limited time to review your online information. If you overload the reader with too many links, you might lose your chance for a review. On this universal platform, you post all of your other social media links on your homepage.

Keep videos short

All videos and photo slide shows must be less than 2 minutes. Less is better but it must be with quality. Select videos and photos that have the best representation of you.

Use photos and videos to tell a story

Media should capture you in action. Avoid posed shots as these do not share a narrative, nor does it make the posts as authentic. You are distinguishing yourself from other applicants. Anyone can pose a smile.

Write descriptions for every video and photo you post

For each media file posted, make sure to include a one-sentence description of so the reviewer knows the context. Include the date, location, organization, and your specific role.

Showcase a range of interests

Show diversity in engagement and interests. Each media file should represent a different side of you. A reviewer does not have time to see 3 videos of you doing the same activity.

It's important that students know that online information is optional and reviewed as a supplement to their college application. Since it's possible that your online resume might not be reviewed, please don't ignore spending time carefully crafting the list of activities that are required on most applications.

5 online resume tips from Melissa Davis

1. Allow it

Encourage students to come to you with any questions and to ask your opinion on things they are posting.

By allowing your child to engage in social media at an earlier age, you are giving them an increased potential at understanding its appropriate use. Start the account together and decide what information should be posted. Go over some ground rules on what they are and are not allowed to post and what is deemed appropriate. Gradually allow your student to use social media more independently as they gain more responsibility.  Encourage your student to come to you with any questions and to ask your opinion on things they are posting.

2. Monitor it

Check what your student is posting.  If your student is posting about something that makes you question whether or not it’s appropriate, it most likely isn’t and imagine what others, i.e. a college admissions officer or potential employer, would think if they saw it.

Watch the types of comments your child leaves on others’ posts.

Watch the types of comments your child leaves on others’ posts.  Are they being respectful of themselves and others? Also, monitor the original content of the posts your child is liking or commenting on. Are their “likes” indicative of what they enjoy? Commenting or liking inappropriate content should be avoided. If what you’re student likes or comments on is something that would get the original poster in trouble, your student’s association with the post, via a like or comment, will look just as bad to anyone who comes across it. Most importantly, have consequences and follow through on them if your child is not following the social media behavioral rules you’ve established.

Who your kids are friends with online can affect the way others view them.

3. Watch who they connect with

    Anything or anyone connected to your student can be found.  Monitor the photos and posts your child is tagged in. Who they are friends with online can affect the way others view your child.  Also, check who and what they are following. Their interests can significantly influence their image.

4. Clean it up

Like a closet, after a while a person’s social media page can become cluttered and have some questionable choices

    Like a closet, after a while a person’s social media page can become cluttered and have some questionable choices. Just because something was posted two years ago, doesn’t mean someone won’t look at.  Sift through older content on social media on occasion and clean up anything unnecessary.  While everything posted on the internet is technically permanent, it can be beneficial to delete anything that raises question.

5. Build a positive digital footprint (to create a clean online reputation)

The quickest way to check a student’s digital footprint is through Google or other search engines.

The quickest way to check a student’s digital footprint is through Google or other search engines. What amount of information can be found? Is there nothing? Is there too much? It’s getting to the point when nothing found on a student online can be hurtful, i.e. do they exist? But so can having too much.

Students typically think of social media as a way to socialize with friends. However, teach your student how to effectively use social media to showcase his/her talents and potential. This provides a more credible digital representation of your student to admissions officers and potential employers who may be googling them. A positive digital footprint will enhance college and scholarship applications, or supplement a resume when your child is applying for a job.

How to create a resume over the summer with Arvin Vohra

Arvin Vohra is the author of Lies, Damned Lies, and College Admissions and the Founder of Vohra Method. Phyllis Zimbler Miller is a content marketing strategist and author of 3 HOW  TO SUCCEED books for teens and young adults. Stephanie Klein Wassink is a former admissions officer, longtime college consultant and founder of Admissions Checkup and Winning Applications. Crystal Olivarria helps busy parents who are struggling to help their child select a relevant career that is fun, fulfilling and financially rewarding at Career Conversationalist.

Key takeaways:

What should students talk about on their resume?

People should be specific and provide great details. What this does is it demonstrates your level of commitment so rather than showing or writing down that you played soccer or had soccer practice, be specific and say soccer practice Monday-Friday for two hours. It really helps people understand the depth of your commitment. –Crystal Olivarria, Career Conversationalist

How can students create their first resume?

Open a document and label it resume. Then make sure you back it up all the time. Literally, use resume format and start looking at the segments on a resume including looking at what college applications think. See how you can use your passions to fill out those forms. You will forget in four years how much time you spent on your activities and what you were involved with at each time in your life. –Phyllis Zimbler Miller, Author

One of the things that I care about the most is the fact that you are updating your student resume regularly, so everybody in your family should have a copy of it. Mom, dad, and students so you are always adding to it, ideally in a monthly basis. Stick it on the refrigerator so if something happens that day, update it, put it on the refrigerator. Remember the summer between 8th grade and 9th grade is considered high school. –Stephanie Klein Wassink,

How should students start to create a digital footprint that matches their resume?

When you are ready for your child to be online, a great app that kids really love is Instagram. An example of how to use Instagram to build a positive resume is to take pictures while volunteering, while running a 5K for a cause, while working on a group project (make sure you get permission from everyone in the group), etc. This is a great way to start creating a positive web presence and portfolio of your work, your passions, and your life that can be discovered by college admissions. –Elisa Croft, SmartSocial

What are some ways students can stand out on their resume?

Figure out what your passion is and share it. Those scholarship committees and college application reviewers are really looking to find out who you are as a person, what interests you, and what you are passionate about. Starting early to think about what really drive you and what you are interested in, and then tailoring your involvement throughout high school is a great way to demonstrate that you are really committed to that passion or that interest. –Jordan Schanda, ScholarPrep

You have to think about it from the principal of diminishing returns, which means that having one more of a thing that you already have a bunch of isn't that exciting. A school like Harvard, Yale Princeton, Stanford, they can fill their whole room with people with high AP scores who have done a bunch of pre-med applications, who have done a bunch of science research, who have played sports, who are class presidents. The way that we think about it is what can you do if your resume is boiled down to two words that is going to make you seem totally different than everyone else. –Arvin Vohra, Vohra Method

What should students avoid putting on their resume?

Obviously, you should be honest but what you do not have to do is tell your dirty linens. If you had a two week summer job once and it just didn't work out for whatever reason, there is no reason to put that on your student resume and then have to make excuses. Sometimes things do not work out. –Phyllis Zimbler Miller, Author

When it comes to scholarships, one of the most important things is to be specific in naming things. Make sure you name the organization, what you did, how long you worked there, etc. You are trying to tell a detailed story in a short period of time with the least amount of words. –Crystal Olivarria, Career Conversationalist

What are your favorite student resume best practices?

Your interests should drive your resume and not your parents. That is an important thing because it really does come through if mom has pushed you and pushed you to a particular activity or if you have decided to do it and are excelling at it. You have to rank the things that you like to do in a specific order on most of the college applications so they should relate. They shouldn’t be ten disparate things, they should be kind of relating. For example, if you like to debate then maybe you have also done things like student council or Hero challenge. The things that you are interested in should usually be connected in some way. –Stephanie Klein Wassink,

Don't do what everyone else is doing. Everyone else is doing two things: they are doing undecided and they are doing pre-med. If you are doing undecided, you are just passing up an opportunity to tell an exciting story. Undecided just isn't that exciting. Decide on something, you can always change your mind. Don't make your narrative pre-med because then you are putting yourself in the most oversaturated, most hyper-competitive group. Find some other story to tell that makes you stand out, not something that makes you part of the most competitive herd. –Arvin Vohra, Vohra Method

Key takeaways from the Online Activities that Impress College Admissions

Understand the importance of a positive digital footprint

With more and more colleges checking the digital footprint of their applicants, it’s becoming crucial to understand your search results as a student. Parents and educators should start a dialogue with teens that highlights the importance and permanent nature of their digital footprint.

Own your search results

As a student, the best way to ensure that you will have a positive digital footprint is to create a personal website with a resume or portfolio. Also, don’t be afraid to ask someone to remove a photo, that you are in, if you think it negatively impacts your online presence.

Create two personal stories

Colleges are concerned with different factors of potential candidates, which is why it is imperative to create two personal stories. The first story should highlight your academic achievements, while the second story should include your unique qualities and skill sets.

What does the admissions process look like?

We need to help students celebrate their achievements and get them online so that college admissions officers can see them. –Sonja Montiel
Headsdhot of Sonja Montiel
Sonja Montiel,
Education Consultant College Confidence

Every institution has their own variation on requirements and their own quirky personalities as to what factors are the most important, but what you need to do is submit two stories. The first story is the academic story: your GPA, test scores, and the rigor of your course. This story is not about whether or not you are “good enough,” but whether or not you can succeed in that college’s classrooms. The second story is the personal story. This is where I believe that things have drastically changed in the admissions landscape. Your personal story should include personal qualities, characteristics and skill sets. Admissions officers want to see evidence that supports your personal story. –Sonja Montiel, College Confidence

With the internet, there are so many opportunities to research and virtually visit a lot of different campuses all over the U.S. –Dr. Karyn Koven

There are over 4,000 4-year colleges in the U.S. and there are a lot of different options, not just the ones that the student applicant have heard of. It is important to remember that there is not just one answer in the process of applying to colleges. With the internet, there are so many opportunities to research and virtually visit a lot of different campuses all over the U.S. –Dr. Karyn Koven, HighTech Los Angeles

Creating a positive online presence

Whatever your kid puts out there on the internet, it stays out there. It never goes away. –Reina Bejerano
Headshot of Reina Bejerano
Reina Bejerano, Director, Oxnard Union HSD

Your digital footprint is very important to the college admissions process right now. Whatever your kid puts out there on the internet, it stays out there. It never goes away. So, twenty or thirty years from now, those things can be found. Consider asking your kids, “How do you want people to remember you? What do you want online?” Once you post it, it’s out there. Have a dialogue with students and with your own children to stress what a digital footprint is and how important it is for their future. –Reina Bejerano, Oxnard Union High School District

Let students know that what they put online should be positive. –Zahir Robb

Let students know that what they put online should be positive. Encourage your students to celebrate the positive things and help to cultivate a positive presence online. In terms of curating your online persona, build a website with an online portfolio or resume so that when you search for yourself you have control over those search results. Upload photos and videos to your webpage, for instance, if you are a musician upload audio clips, if you’re a writer add some of your best papers. Next, ensure that your website is visible to admissions officers. ZeeMee  is a great app that can help you share information about yourself and they have now partnered with the Common App , which is used by a number of the top schools in the country. The Coalition consists of approximately 90 different selective universities around the country who are encouraging students to start uploading papers at an early age where the individual universities can give feedback on their work and let them know what they need to do to be more competitive. –Zahir Robb, STAR Prep Academy

Authenticity is huge. It’s very obvious to college admissions, when they check social media and see 8 clubs added in 12th grade, that your intention of being involved isn’t consistent. Ask yourself, “am I consistent with the way that I am contributing to my communities and my groups?” Since we have raised teens to be humble, they may feel uncomfortable sharing their achievements online. So we need to help students celebrate their achievements and get them online so that college admissions officers can see those great accomplishments. –Sonja Montiel, College Confidence

Headshot of Dr. Karyn Koven
Dr. Karyn Koven, Director High Tech LA

Students often overlook incorporating care-taking activities in their online presence. Sometimes students are responsible for taking care of younger children or older grandparents. For some students it’s working at their jobs and they think that it doesn’t count as an achievement, but it does. It shows responsibility and commitment when a student’s online presence highlights what they do over time, and isn’t just every Christmas they do something for the homeless. –Dr. Karyn Koven, HighTech Los Angeles

To help your students find the perfect college, look at which schools match their interests and their personal statement. –Jacob Kantor
Headshot of Jacob Kantor

Jacob Kantor,
Sales Director
Revolution Prep

There is a great fit for every student out there. To help your students find the perfect college, look at which schools match their interests and their personal statement. –Jacob Kantor, C2 Education

How to help students with negative Google results

Headshot of Kahir Robb
Zahir Robb,
Head of School STAR Prep Academy

It’s important to search online and be aware of what is being said about you or what you have said. Tell your students to be proactive and to be upfront about what is going on. Tell someone if you don’t like a photo that is posted of you and make sure that you don’t post about someone else online. Always get permission to tag someone and post something. –Zahir Robb, STAR Prep Academy

Online admission advice

As you watch your student or your child take initiative, which is really exciting, help them document some of it but be gentle about it. You want to start to create—whether it is a website, a YouTube channel, or an e-portfolio—evidence to support your student’s thoughts and feelings about their skills and attributes. Then help students document that evidence. –Sonja Montiel, College Confidence

This post is an excerpt from the 2017 Digital Citizenship Conference in Los Angeles. The conference was a rich environment for educators, law enforcement officers, and parents to openly discuss issues and solutions for helping students shine in the digital world.

Online Branding Strategies for College Bound Kids video

We sat down with Dennis Bonilla the Executive Dean at the School of Business and the College of Information Systems and Technology at the University of Phoenix, to talk about how teenagers can brand themselves and get ready for the future. Listen in as we learn his best online branding strategies for college bound kids.

Key takeaways on online branding strategies for college bound students

  • Instead of asking your children what they want to be when they grow up, ask them what kinds of problems do they want to solve
  • Focus on the best path to get them prepared to help solve problems
  • Remind children that they can achieve great things at any age

What are the things that might hurt a student online?

Kids don't realize that once something goes online, it stays online forever. The funny, inappropriate and suggestive photos are not always seen as fun content. The reality is everybody can see it. Once it is on the internet it is there forever. You have to be aware that everything that that is happening, recorded or posted will live forever. It will be your personal brand for the rest of your life.

What should students do before they post?

Put yourselves in the shoes of the admissions officer at a college that you would like to go to. Check all the things that you've posted on social media sites and do a self-assessment. You have to understand that everything you post, is a reflection of your personal brand. Your online reputation will extend throughout every evaluation process for college or for your first job.

Why is it important that students check their grammar on their past posts?

If you go for a job interview, the evaluator will have second thoughts if your resume is not presented very well. They will think that you are not going to perform well on the job. You have to start thinking about these little things. Take the time to reflect if you have taken your education seriously. These details are important because it will determine your success in the workplace.

Tell us about Raytheon, why you like them, and how somebody can work for them?

We've been working with Raytheon as a partner. They're one of the largest defense contractors in the world. They have the Raytheon missile and avionics system. They are a big defense contractor. To work at Raytheon as a defense contractor, every employee has to have a security clearance. The security clearance could take up to a year because they have to do a FBI-like investigation. We have a strong partnership with them and our graduates. Raytheon believes, if they can keep local students in Tucson then the brain drain doesn't happen. They want students to do all the things necessary so that they can pass security clearances and contribute to the local economy.

How can students get into college and build a positive online footprint?

These days I don't ask my kids what do they want to be when they grow up. I ask them what problems they want to solve. By asking students that, then you start seeing what interests they have and what kinds of activities they're associated with. Teach your children to be prepared at all times. The school or university will want to see things that they've done in their life and community.Millennials are big on giving back to the community. Everything is about what to contribute and how to give back. By the time students graduate, the jobs available for them today don't exist. Jobs are changing fast because of automation, artificial intelligence, and advances in technology. Asking students what do you want to be when you grow up is not as relevant as what problems do you want to solve. Then, focus on the best path to get your student prepared to help solve those problems

Where should students start building their positive online identity?

Students need to be on LinkedIn. Start your professional brand on LinkedIn and start as early as you can. Google, Apple, and Amazon hire young kids who haven't even gone to college. Based on experience, profiles and problem solving are how students got the job. Have your child start their profile early. Make it very professional. LinkedIn is a serious place for the presentation of your brand and the skills you exhibit. Start utilizing LinkedIn. There are a lot of tips on how to use the site. Every graduate of every University belongs to some group on LinkedIn. Join groups and communities that have the same interests as you. Network with those people and by the time you finish school you will have a professional resume.

What advice do you have for college-bound kids?

Take care of yourself. It's never too young to learn. Kids are amazing, don't ever let anybody tell you you're not amazing. You can achieve great things at any age, don't give up.

Harvard Rejection: How to Avoid Social Media Blunders video

Harvard has rescinded acceptance opportunities from at least ten students for obscene memes. Things that they did quietly in their own time has changed their future drastically for their family. I have two experts here to talk about the Harvard rejection and share tips to avoid making social media blunders-- first I have Mandy Stangeland, a college admissions consultant, from Wise Owl College Consulting and I have Casey Rowley, a college counselor, from Beverly Hills High School. Essentially students were accepted and they were going to go in the fall. These students, however, were doing obscene things in a private Facebook group and it was discovered and reported with the college ultimately discovering it.

What is something positive that students can do to make sure that this never happens to their family?

I think the real key takeaway from this is that colleges are looking. That is a message that not enough people are familiar with yet. Colleges and employers are looking at your social media and "googling" your name. You want to give them something positive to see. Clearly, this is an example of someone putting something negative out there, it was seen, and there were consequences but the same thing can happen on the positive side. You have students that are doing really remarkable things and then using their social media to highlight those things and then college admissions advisors see that and feel positive about those students. Colleges want students who will represent them positively with their accomplishments and in the future as an alumnus. –Mandy Stangeland, Wise Owl College Consulting

There are websites and organizations that are helping students show their positive accomplishments and personalities earlier such as It is a scholarship website where students can go on as early as 9th grade and they can post online publicly the positive things that they are doing and it links directly with colleges. Other private organizations are catching on as well and helping students highlight and shine online. I think there is also a bigger conversation where there is a lot of lead up to the actual application and acceptance, and then once a student gets accepted it's kind of like "home free" and the senioritis kicks in. I think the point here is that we are not looking to get students accepted. We are looking to get students accepted with a university that shares the same values, interests, characteristics, and attributes. It's not just about the college acceptance. It's about continuing on through your internship and your career. –Casey Rowley, Beverly Hills High School

What are some practical and tactical tips that you have in this situation?

One is to have these conversations with these students regularly. Have it be part of their education, part of the curriculum, expose them to this stuff more and then role model that as parents and educators. Say that we are a part of this group and we use these tools. Show students how they can be used positively day-to-day. Most organizations, of all sizes, are using social media to some extent so we want to teach young people how to use it as a consumer and how to use it in your day-to-day life. When you are on the Internet, you are presenting something to the whole world. That doesn’t mean that you have to agree with the whole world or that the whole world has to agree with you, but you do need to know what types of content and information belongs online. Students can learn about what does belong online and what does not by seeing it modeled and by having these conversations at school. As students are getting ready to send in their applications, a lot of schools are saying that if you link your social media into your application then they will take a look at that. Sports students can share their highlight reels and photos from their sporting events each weekend. Students that are interested in robotics can build a YouTube channel or those interested in poetry and writing can start a blog. Get your content out there that demonstrates your uniqueness. Be risky with being brave and putting your originality into the universe, but don't be risky with questioning whether or not something is appropriate to share online. –Mandy Stangeland, Wise Owl College Consulting

Demonstrated interest is something that colleges are starting to really pay attention to and something that is increasingly spilling into social media. Colleges are on snapchat, they are on Instagram and Facebook and they send you emails and videos. They can track if you open an email or if you follow them on Facebook or Snapchat. If you are a rising senior or a junior, you don't have to go to the campus to show a college that you are interested in them. You can go online and follow their social media to not only stand out but to show the college that you are a good fit for them and that you mirror their values when they look at your social media profiles. –Casey Rowley, Beverly Hills High School

Everybody is going to have a bad day, but we tell students that they should vent via text, over coffee with a best friend, over the phone, with your parents, but not online. Do you vent on social media? What do you tell students about where to vent and how to be themselves?

We ask students, "If we printed out your social media page right now and handed it to the college that you are applying to tomorrow, how would you feel?" It does because most of the time they get this smirk on their face like, "Oh shoot, I don't feel comfortable with what is on their right now." I think it is also teaching our students healthy coping skills so they know how to vent appropriately. –Casey Rowley, Beverly Hills High School

Another thing that I have heard is that people say that they have a right to make fun of people online. It's their right with freedom of speech. We are telling students that it is okay to make fun of long as it is yourself, but as soon as you make fun of someone else where does that go? –Josh Ochs, SafeSmartSocial

I think it goes back to the simple statement that Mandy made earlier, "Is this good?" Ask yourself, "Am I the type of person who is known for knocking others down? Or am I the type of person who is building others up?" There is a way to show your standpoint that is appropriate and if you feel differently about a person's opinion then you can join a club and be an advocate in a positive and appropriate setting. Then it goes back to that saying, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." Once you post it, it is there forever and it showcases your character. –Casey Rowley, Beverly Hills High School

The Social U finished conducting an online survey of college admissions officers regarding how (and if) they use social media during the admissions process. One of the most interesting things to come out of that survey was a list of “red flag” issues that if seen, lead college admissions officers to question a candidate’s character.

Julie Fisher headshot
Julie Fisher

5 Red flags for college admissions officers & how to fix them

Julie Fisher founded The Social U to give students and their families the tools, insights, and expertise they need to manage their online presence and prepare for the rigors of the college admissions process. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

1. Symbols of violence or displays of prejudice or discrimination

    Students must recognize that even though they may not view something as a symbol of violence (like the image of a gun), others might. Before posting, consider trying to take a look at your post as if you are behind a variety of lenses: How would someone in a different part of the country view your post? How would someone with different political opinions view your post? How would someone who has experienced negative outcomes due to something contained in your post view your post? How would someone older or younger or from a different religion or race view your post?What we often forget is that for better or worse, we are often judged based on what we post and all that content becomes a part of our “personal brand”.
    The Fix:
    Be thoughtful and try to view your words or images through the lenses of others who don’t know you in real life and most likely will never contact you to ask you what you really meant by the post.

2. Partying, alcohol, or drugs

    You never get a second chance to make a good first impression. When you post about partying or images of yourself partying, it can lead adult decision-makers to question your character and judgment especially if you’re underage. Even a photo in your kitchen with beer bottles in the background that are sitting out from your parents’ party the evening before could get you into trouble. When someone sees a photo you’ve posted, they don’t have any context from which to draw conclusions. In this case, they might assume those beer bottles were yours.
    The Fix:
    When it comes to posting party pictures, don’t post any photo you take while you’re at the party. Instead, wait until the light of day to view them and make responsible decisions about what’s smart/not smart to post. Once again, think about the lenses through which others will view your posts and recognize that no one will ever call you to ask if the beer bottles behind you in the photo are yours or not.

3. Negative comments about school

    Every student at one time or another has been unhappy as a result of something that happened at school. Maybe it’s a teacher you don’t see eye-to-eye with or maybe it’s a school or class policy you don’t agree with. When you post negatively about your school, it can reflect negatively upon your character. Schools (secondary and colleges alike) have employees whose job it is to note every time their school is mentioned online.
    The Fix:
    When it comes to posting negatively about school, if you don’t have something nice to say, it’s better to say nothing at all.

4. Nudity or partial nudity

    Everyone likes to post pics of themselves on vacation and while there’s nothing wrong with sharing those good memories online, it’s important to recognize that not all pictures should make the cut. Before you post pics of yourself and your friends from your spring break trip, look at the angles in the photograph as well as the expressions on everyone’s faces.
    The Fix:
    The angle of the photo of a girl on the beach or the pout on her face may cause the image to appear sexualized even if that wasn’t the subject’s or poster’s intention. A good rule of thumb: if grandma or grandpa wouldn’t like the photo, then an adult judging your character online won’t either.

5. Profanity

    Every adult knows that teens and college students swear online and it's likely that most college admissions officers wouldn't be too offended by it. That number goes up, however, if your social media pages are filled with profanity.
    The Fix:
    Be thoughtful about the words you use online and make sure that before it’s time to apply to college or for a job, you scan your posts and edit out the profanity or foul language you used in the past.

Key takeaways from recruiters at internships and first employers

This post is an excerpt from the 2017 Digital Citizenship Conference in Los Angeles. The conference was a rich environment for educators, law enforcement officers, and parents to openly discuss issues and solutions for helping students shine in the digital world.

An online presence is a necessity

Students who are applying for jobs almost always start by submitting an application online so having a positive online presence is necessary. Create a LinkedIn account with a headshot and list hobbies, awards, and sports accomplishments in your account description. Monitor your social media to ensure it reflects positively on your applications, even if your accounts are private.

Find your niche and specialize in it

Finding the right job starts with really honing in on your passions and finding your niche. Use your background, your skills, your experience, and your major to find out what you want to do.

Schedule informational meetings and practice for them

The best way for students to prepare for job interviews is to have them schedule informational meetings with executives at the companies they're interested in. Consider asking a teacher or parent for help holding mock interviews, to get comfortable before your meetings.

What are some best practices for students interested in internships and impressing first employers?

Headshot of Jeanna Trammell
Jeanna Trammell Internship Coordinator CA State University

Students have a lot of information today. However, when it comes to learning about the skills that they need to get whatever position it is that they are interested in, the best approach is to have a face-to-face meeting with executives of the company. Students need to set up an informational meeting with these people. Work with students to help them with their communication skills and to prep them for their interview. Remind them that the more practice that they get, the better they become. Then the real job interviews become a breeze. –Jeanna Trammell, California State University, Dominguez Hills

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Heidi Swanson Internship Coordinator Chapman University

In this day and age, there are rarely opportunities for students to meet with top executives unless they can score a personal interview. Today, students that are applying for jobs, almost always have to apply online and it makes having a professional online presence a necessity. You want to create a LinkedIn profile. Even a high school student can add their interests, causes they care about and input their volunteer experience on their profile. Students also need to monitor their social media accounts because even private accounts are not truly private. There are third party applications that can look through private accounts. You want your social media accounts to reflect positively on your application.  –Heidi Swanson, Chapman University

What are some new tools in recruiting available today?

There are dozens and dozens of different software that employers are now using to sift through applications and resumes. It used to be more common with larger corporations, but now it is more prevalent throughout all job sectors. Another thing that I would ask students to do is to make sure that they apply right away. I had a friend who is a recruiter at a major studio and she called me on a Friday to let me know that she was getting ready to post a position so that I could share it with my students and encourage them to apply. They received over 700 applications over the weekend and they pulled the job on Monday because they had one person available to review all 700 applications. So it is imperative that students apply early to make sure that they get considered by the hiring manager. –Amber Chitty, California State University, Fullerton

GradLeaders is a tool that we use on our campus and there are other campuses that use this tool as well. It’s a tool for students to be able to find employers, internships and part-time jobs. They can also post their resume and it will be reviewed by myself or by someone from our college career center. These types of centralized portals are being utilized more often now by universities to help find work and also approve positions for college credit. –Jeanna Trammell, California State University, Dominguez Hills

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Ingrid Greene
Program Coordinator at Pepperdine University

At Pepperdine, we use a similar program called Handshake and I would recommend for students to really get to know that program. It’s so important to understand how these programs work as a student so you can use its full potential. –Ingrid Greene, Pepperdine University

What about video components?

A lot of times if a student can personalize themselves through a video, they have a much higher chance of landing the position. I recommend that students work with a coach to learn more about selling themselves on camera and practicing their presence online via a Skype informational meeting with an executive as well. –Heidi Swanson, Chapman University

What is your best advice to help students get ahead of the game in the next 2-3 years?

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Dr. Karyn Koven Director High Tech Los Angeles

For students who are starting internships, I would say to just be there, show up, and learn. I think that kids come in sometimes thinking that they are going to run the company on these internships. They need to recognize that these people have been doing this for a long time and they need you to sort the mail, answer the phones, and take out the trash because they can’t. You won’t necessarily be doing high-level stuff in terms of actions or activity, but you still need to put your best effort into it. You can also use internships as an opportunity to see what people are doing and see if you can picture yourself in that position and that type of work environment. –Dr. Karyn Koven, HighTech Los Angeles

Headshot of Amber Chitty
Amber Chitty Coordinator CA State University

The advice that I would give students today is very different from the advice that my parents gave me as I was going through high school. They told me, “You want to have a broad base of knowledge, keep your options open.” Now the opposite is true. I think students should find what they are passionate about and what they like doing and specialize. There is nothing worse than going to a job that you don’t like. Students now, while they are young and have the opportunity to explore their passions, that is what they need to do. For example, if you absolutely love animals, look for a position at an animal shelter or a veterinary office. Use your background, your skills, your experience, and your major to find out what you want to do. –Amber Chitty, California State University, Fullerton


While it’s true that not every college admissions officer looks at the social media of every application that crosses their desk, you can never know who will look and who won’t. Avoid missed opportunities by keeping your online persona in tip-top shape. You want to be your authentic self online, but you also need to view each of your posts through a variety of lenses before hitting send. Follow these tips and you will be well on your way to a social media presence that you can be proud of.Do you have a golden rule for posting online that you follow in order to stay out of social media trouble? Sound off in the comments below.

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