Summer suggestions for professional development, part 3

 May 8, 2014


No matter what  plans you have for the fall – from starting your first semester of graduate school to starting a postdoc or full-time job, and everything in between – you should think about taking a little time this summer to get your virtual house in order. You can bet that potential employers, colleagues and other professional contacts will be searching for you online. Do you know what they’ll find? Are you happy with how it represents you?

The task of “cultivating an online presence” can seem overwhelming if you’ve never thought about it before. But it doesn’t have to be a daunting experience, and a minimal investment of time and energy can yield big results. Here are some ideas to get you started.

  • Update and renovate your CV or resume. If you don’t already keep an up-to-date version of your resume or CV ready at all times, get in the habit now. Ask some friends or mentors to give you feedback on the format and content; make sure it is clear, organized, easy to read, and impeccably free of typos and other mistakes. You an also reach out to a counselor at the Duke Career Center for some one-on-one advice.
  •  Google yourself. Other people will, and you need to know what they are finding out – or not finding out – about you.
  •  Review your current social media footprint – starting with LinkedIn, Twitter, facebook, and any other networks in which you participate. Do you project a consistent, professional image across these platforms? Do you understand your privacy settings and visibility? Do you have old accounts languishing on the web? Once you determine which networks are most important for you to participate in, commit to keeping them current and engaging.
  • If you don’t already have one, think about developing a personal webpage/electronic portfolio. Look at model sites from other academics or professionals in your target field. Conduct a personal branding audit, using this guide from the Career Center. Find a platform you’re comfortable with – if you’re not especially technologically-minded, give WordPress, Tumblr, or Drupal a try.

You don’t need to remake yourself online all in one day. Set aside 30 minutes or an hour every couple of weeks, and by the end of the summer you’ll be able to see a lot of progress.

Abbie Langston is a PhD candidate in the Graduate Program in Literature and an intern in the Office of Graduate Student Affairs.