Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

Millennials’ comfort with posting personal info online could harm careers

By now, the stories are legend: College students with every door open to them suddenly see those doors slam shut because potential employers discover their personal posting on MySpace or Facebook.

The most recent example to blaze across the news is of Stacy Snider, a senior at Millersville University who was denied her teaching credential after the university discovered a photograph of her drinking a beer on MySpace.

Social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace are wildly popular among college students. Of the twoFacebook,  is considered safer because users must belong to a group before they can view other users’ postings. Still, experts caution students to post only information they’d want a potential employer to read.

Mary Michael Hawkins, director of the DU Career Center, says she and her staff have not heard of web-related job losses involving DU students. However, she adds, “We do incorporate a conversation in our meetings with students about the potential harm social networking sites may have on a student seeking an internship or a job and caution students about the content and use of the privacy settings.”

According to a recent study completed in January for the University Communications office, 5,254 MySpace profiles list the University of Denver as their current school. There are 9,946 Facebook users in the DU group, which can include students, faculty, staff and alumni.

Kate Johnson, Web content strategist with University Communications, says college-age students tend to put their lives on a stage, which may explain their online judgment errors.

“I’ve done some reading on the Millennial Generation, and they’ve grow up in the world of blogging and American Idol,” says Johnson. “They have the feeling that they need to be on stage all the time. They have a really fuzzy boundary between what’s private and what’s public.”

Johnson says that students may believe they can post whatever they want and then clean up their sites for their job hunt, but that won’t work.

“Employers can search cached pages,” says Johnson. “It’s best for students to assume that, if it was ever out there, it will always be out there.”

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