[Next month, I’ll be lucky enough to give my third CUNY workshop, helping currently-enrolled college students use the resources they have at hand, to create the professional opportunities they need to achieve aspirations and ambitions. Corny as it sounds, each time I interact with these exceptional students, I come away feeling that I’m the lucky one. I come away understanding that I learned just as much as I taught. Professor Alyshia Galvez was generous enough to forward me this article written by one of these inspiring students, Marlen Fernandez. Ms. Fernandez wrote an article, discussing a professional development workshop she recently held. Read her piece, and you’ll see why I’m sharing it. Not going to lie, when I first read it, I was deeply moved. To think that a business I launched due of my desire to change my own life, continues to outgrow my (selfish) ambitions, encouraging and empowers a new generation…come on, of course I cried a little bit. Wow. Just wow. I’m so privileged to have Ms. Fernandez share her excellent advice on my blog.]
Social media and professionalism.
I choose to facilitate this workshop because I am passionate about these two topics. I also feel that I have a lot of experience in both matters. Both social media and professionalism can be done right and earn a young person major credit; however if performed poorly, they can literally be catastrophic.
What I did to keep my presentation to the point was to divide social media into constructive and destructive behaviors. I made a small PowerPoint presentation to keep my young audience engaged and make it as fun and interactive as possible. In the first part I went over all the silly things you should not be doing on social media. I stressed [the importance of] not posting inappropriate pictures, but also stressed being cautions with the language used and even the subjects they were commenting on. I told them how things go viral. One moment a silly comment, status, or picture could be everywhere. They all laughed at the drunk pictures I showed of individuals. They were in shock when I showed them extreme racists tweets. But most went blank when I showed how a simple status update complaining about customers at a certain individual’s job…resulted in the woman getting fired. Yes, I said, it is that serious and that’s why we are having this conversation, preparing you for the real world. To me these are all negative ways to use social media. By engaging in these behaviors, I made it clear, they were only creating an ugly online identity. I told them that it was not too late and that they could start fresh the moment they went home by doing a clean up of their online profiles.
The second part was to discuss how social media is one’s online identity. To promote this idea, I demonstrated constructive behaviors and ways in which social media can be useful. I discussed the different social media outlets–Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumbler, and LinkedIn– and the purposes they serve. I stressed how social media can provide a way to express yourself and engage in important conversations. I introduced many to the importance of using hashtags. I also mentioned how Twitter and LinkedIn can be used to follow companies or anything relating to their professional studies. I gave them an example of a tweet that had landed one individual a job. This was also a great example of how one can promote the work they do and how beneficial social media can be.
It was also very important for me to bring into the conversation the idea of social media giving a voice to individuals. I told them that social media is able to give those who have been silenced a voice. Many social movements can start…online and be seen by the entire world. Social media allows us to join the conversation, promulgate our opinions, and see the opinions of others. It is a world of its own! As an example of this phenomenon, I spoke about the “Ask Angy” column. It is the first column written by an undocumented student activist, Angy Rivera, for undocumented youth. She even happened to be in the room to further elaborate!
After a much needed break, I moved on to professionalism. I went over email etiquette. Simple things such as getting names right, properly addressing the person one is emailing, and responding in a timely matter. I also discussed being prepared for interviews, how to dress, resume building, sitting upright, and following up. While those may seem like minor details, they are very important and often young people do not know or forget these basic rules of etiquette. (Deep inside of me, I must admit that in a way, I felt like a mini-Carlota Zimmerman, how exciting!)
[Ms. Marlen Fernandez is a graduate of Lehman College. She currently works at the Jaime Lucero Institute of Mexican Studies, and is an Education Outreach Coordinator. Have a question for her? Leave it in the comments!]