By PreMed StAR
The internet can break or make you these days. Time and time again, premedical students make the costly mistake of failing to establish a positive internet identity. According to Pew Research, 70% of Americans now use social media. Facebook, which tends to be one of the more intimate and revealing of the platforms, leads the way with nearly 8 out of 10 online Americans using it. You may be familiar with stories such as Harvard’s rescindment of 10 accepted students due to offensive Facebook posts or the social media exposing of many unmasked white nationalists marching in Charlottesville. Your internet identity matters. Here are four steps that can assist in enhancing your online identity.
Search the internet.
Have you ever entered your name into a search engine? What comes up? Are there websites displaying your accomplishments and good characteristics or are there more embarrassing or incriminating photos of you? Truth be told, many admissions committees (adcoms) do not have the time or interest in learning about their applicant’s social persona unless that applicant has provided them with a very interesting fact about themselves that piques interest or warrants verification. For instance, if you’ve published a paper, written a novel, or played collegiate sports, there is a chance your name will be searched. Students on the adcom are more likely to search and expose the good and bad of the applicants.
Clean yourself up.
This should be obvious, but over and over again, I find myself warning premedical students to remove photos or untag pictures that their friends have posted of them. As a medical resident, I found myself deleting a friend who would post inappropriate photos which he somehow felt were funny enough to always tag a number of his friends, including myself. For many, it makes sense to deactivate riskier sites unless you are able to monitor them frequently enough.
Build your social identity.
It is not enough to simply remove yourself from the internet. Some premeds delete their profile or change their names during interview season rather than showcasing themselves. Why not take advantage of social media as a means to enhance yourself? It is my opinion that premeds should have at least one social network profile which they use to showcase themselves. Some are already using websites like LinkedIn and thousands are now using PreMed StAR for this purpose. I am impressed with my premed mentees who have asked me to view and offer opinion on how to improve their profiles. Medical schools are catching on to this movement and are using websites like these for a more holistic recruitment process.
It’s never too early to polish your internet resume. Waiting until interview season may be too late. I have witnessed students rewarded with amazing opportunities because someone noticed their online profile, blog, or vlog. One way to promote yourself is by encouraging others to view your profile in order to learn more about you. I have been to national medical conferences where students hand out their business cards with their school name, research or job title, and social media handle (e.g. Twitter or PreMed StAR page).
As technology advances, it’s very important that premeds leverage it to their advantage, rather than to their detriment. Be wise, and know that people are making opinions about you based on what they find online. So, ask yourself this: What do I want to internet to tell people about me? Instead of letting the internet tell something else, be proactive and build your professional online identity!
Brought to you in partnership with PreMed StAR, a recruitment network for premedical students where medical schools can directly recruit premedical students online. AMSA has partnered with PreMed StAR to provide our members with a free membership trial.