Your digital footprint and your future – Creating your personal brand

Now, more than ever before, consideration must be given to how you represent yourself through different digital platforms online, thanks to social media. In creating online profiles, you are sculpting your own personal brand. This brand could work in your favor; however, if you are careless, it can work against you.

With the free forum nature of social media, you have to keep in mind the permanence of everything that is put online. In the movie The Social Network, there is a quote that rings true to this day, “The Internet is not written in pencil Mark; it’s written in ink.”

Every interaction you have online by way of posting, tagging, and commenting becomes your digital brand. Before employers meet with potential employees, they may already have a concept of who you are – or, at least how you have represented yourself. The rule of first impressions stands true, and many people are not even there to witness it for themselves. Each day, this digital world may be conducting business on your behalf, sometimes without your knowledge. Students getting ready to enter the job market must be aware of this rapidly evolving landscape.

When shaping your digital footprint, it does not necessarily need to be G-rated. We are human, after all, and a sunshine and unicorns presence is not given much credence. However, posts that are continually negative, indicative of tons of drama, or provide excessive drops of the F bomb may certainly throw a few red flags toward potential employers. Even with high privacy settings, potential employers may still be privy to your information by way of co-workers and acquaintances. Have you ever been surprised to find out how many mutual people you know after meeting someone new? The same rules apply in the workplace.

On the flip-side, why not use your social profiles to showcase what you have to offer? Not everyone is able to pull off a no-interview-required digital footprint, but it sure doesn’t hurt to use social platforms to enhance assets that may otherwise be hidden. Do you have a blog about something that you are passionate about? Share it. Do you have a hobby that makes you unique or highlights your creative side? For example, you may enjoy cake decorating and have some photos of some fantastic cakes that you have created. Share those too. You never know what opportunities may arise from your network of friends and beyond.

Students use these forums every day and they are not going away. They may change on the surface, or evolve in their own right, but they will only continue to grow and become more accepted by the general population, including job seekers and employers. Learn to use social media to help achieve your goals in life, rather than as a line full of dirty laundry. These tools can help you pave the way to achieve your goals, or they can become a roadblock if used inappropriately. So think smart, and be social.

The work place and the next generation—what’s a Millennial to do?

For most, entering the working world is something you look forward to. When you are able to achieve independence by doing things such as buying a home, purchasing one’s own items, and even having time to make a difference in the world would signify the stage of life known as adulthood.
For many Millennials, the current state of the economy has made such a level of freedom difficult, if not completely impossible. The reason that many Generation Y adults are living at home with mom and dad is due to the fact that unemployment or under-employment, along with the minimum wage jobs they have taken due to lack of options, do not provide wages sufficient enough to make renting a decent apartment or putting a down payment on a home possible. This makes future hopes such as marriage, starting families, and other potential scenarios a remote reality. The work place and the next generation could paint a scary picture.

Labels for different generations are nothing new. Many people considered Baby Boomers “selfish” or “greedy.” Generation X-er’s were looked upon as “slackers” or “self-absorbed.” Millennials, or Generation Y, are no exception to the rule. They have been characterized by society as “entitled” or “narcissistic.” So does that mean if you were born within a certain timeframe that you are sure to carry these characteristics, doomed forever by a potential employers labeling habit? Not necessarily. What it does mean is that careful consideration needs to be given not only to the career path that you choose, but also the needs of the workforce upon attaining the required certification toward that particular line of work.

With careers such as postal worker, telemarketer, and communications operators on a fast decline, due largely to evolving technology, how can a Millennial (or anyone for that matter) choose a solid career that will be looking to hire employees?

First, do some research on what employers are looking for in your geographical area (or one where you would like to live – and could feasibly do so). Many jobs can also be completed from a remote location or home office. Be sure that this is an option in some cases, especially if that is something that you are banking on as being part of your decision.

Next, choose a school that offers programs with a high placement rate upon graduation. Schools such as Western Dakota Tech offer a placement report for you to review, where you can see not only placement, but average wages in different fields. Knowing this information in advance offers security in your decision, and is an ace up your sleeve in planning for the future.

While it may not seem important before starting school, remember the other details that will help you to be placed in a career that you work hard to get ready for. The Career Services Office at WDT offers other services that can help you be successful by assisting you with resume and job interviewing skills, posting of career opportunities, hosting of on-campus job fairs, and career guidance.

Don’t get bogged down by the generational label that you may carry. Take steps toward a solid and rewarding future that will allow you to wear the label of ‘adulthood’ proudly.

SCRUBS Camp a career exploration experience

Western Dakota Tech invites the media to WDT’s SCRUBS Camp on Wednesday, Dec. 4, at WDT in Rapid City.

From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., students from West River high schools will visit campus for a day of medical career exploration. Medical professionals from throughout the Rapid City community will provide career information so students can learn what careers in each field are like.

Demonstrations include surgical technology, paramedic, practical nursing, medical assisting, phlebotomy, and more.

Western Dakota Tech is the only technical institute that serves the western South Dakota region. WDT offers more than 30 programs in a variety of fields, including Business and Computers, Construction and Manufacturing, Energy and Environmental Technologies, Health Sciences, Legal and Public Services, and Transportation Technologies.

WDT faculty, staff, and administration focus their efforts on helping students gain the skills and experiences they need to succeed. Through hands-on learning, internships, and industry partnerships, WDT students graduate ready to make real and immediate contributions to their employers and their communities.

For information about WDT, call (800) 544-8765 or (605) 718-2565 or send an email to Visit WDT on the web at