Monday, January 31, 2011

Too Available?

With graduate school quickly approaching the half-way mark, I've been thinking a lot about what I'll do when I'm done.  My goal, right now, is to go to another master's program to get my MA in Library Science.  I love books, and libraries, and so pursuing my LIS degree seems the natural choice.  Of course, I'll also have to look for a job, if not when I'm done here, then when I'm done with the LIS.  With that in mind, I've been thinking a great deal about what my online presence says about me because the fact is, employers Google potential employee's and check them out.  If you Google me, you'll come up with a heck of a lot of hits.  Not all of them are me, but many of them are.

You're probably aware that I have a fairly available web presence, like I said, if you Google me you'll find me.  I'm on Facebook and Twitter, and though both of those things are locked I've heard that people in business have ways around the lock-outs.  I also have an account, which I love, and host several blogs.  All of my blogs are copyright to my name, so they're not anonymous by any stretch of the imagination.  I have a Flickr and Viddler account, an account on Writer's Cafe and GoodReads, on LinkedIn and  I'm literally all over the place.  I write for Suite101, eHow, and Blissfully Domestic.  I use to write for Helium (but am considering taking those articles down).  If you want to know me, you can know me... or at least what I'm doing.

And here's the thing, even if I take those things down and close all of those accounts, they don't go away.  Google and other web-indexing sites make cached copies of blogs, websites, and the like.  I can erase my web presence, but it'll do no good.  There's a site, The Way Back Machine, that will show me what my blog looked like in May 2003, when I started writing on Blogger.  I'm literally out there and I'm not going any where.  So many people hide who they are from the net, which was always puzzling for me, but I'm starting to understand why they did it.

The net has the power to allow those you don't know to judge you unfairly.  It has the power to cheat you out of a job you're qualified for, even if you're the best candidate.  Obviously, I'm worried and it's not causeless concern.  This is a legitimate issue.

And, to complicate matters, I've been thinking a lot about what my blog's name says about me and how it reflects on who I am.  Will a future employer judge me because my website's called "pessimist," never mind the fact that that's only part of the equation?  I don't know.  What does "Pretty Pessimist" say about my character?  I don't want to be judged unfairly, but is it really unfair when I put myself out there like that?

Then there's my freelance work.  What does that say about me to potential, academic employers?  Will it interfere with my ability to get a job?  I hope not, but I can't help thinking that it might.  I love working freelance, and will do it for a living if I can when I get done with college, but it might not be a completely realistic option.  I'd like to be a librarian, I'd like to teach community college, but will I have the opportunity to do those things?

So, now I'm wrestling with how I can clean up my web presence to make a better impression.  Should I delete Facebook or Twitter, should I remove my Viddler and Writer's Cafe accounts?  Should I lock some of my pictures on Flickr?  Should I write under a pseudonym for my freelance stuff?  Should I... yeah, you get my point.  I don't really know how to scale it back and I don't know if I really want to. I just can't help thinking that if I work on it now, if I scale myself back, by the time I'm looking for work all the cached copies will be gone, or close to gone, and I won't have to worry over it anymore.

So, tell me what you think.  I could use some advice here.