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Google yourself!: Curating a Digital Identity to Meet Your Goals

Sarah Rebolloso McCullough, associate director of the Feminist Research Institute, offered advice on crafting one’s digital identify on Tuesday, April 24, for the PhD Unlimited workshop – a monthly series hosted by the UC Davis Humanities Institute. McCullough, who holds a Ph.D. in cultural studies from UC Davis, helped participants identify their goals and think about ways to engage more mindfully online.

If you are interested in curating your digital identity more effectively, try thinking about three goals you have for the next three years.

Next, think about all the places you are online: Facebook? Linkedin? Twitter?

Evaluate what you spend most of your online time doing. How effective is this for your career? How enjoyable is it for you, and how does it enrich your personal life? How could you change your profiles or habits to make your online engagement work for you?

An active online presence can have many benefits for academics and PhD students: it can extend your presence over space and time, enhance the visibility of your work, open up new ways to communicate with other scholars, and connect you with new audiences.

There are also risks: online profiles can blur the line between your public and private personas, opening up risks for personal or professional retribution for things you post online. And, of course, time!

Keeping up an online presence is an investment of time, and McCullough encouraged people to be more mindful of the time they spend online. A lot of online content moves you- how can you identify ways to engage in which you move yourself forward, using your time online to further the personal and professional goals you want to accomplish?

For many of us, it can be difficult to know where to start. McCullough encouraged us to ask first: who are your people? What platforms are they on? Try thinking of communications platforms as genres. There is a certain beauty to a good tweet (or Facebook post, Linkedin profile, et cetera). Study the genres you use- take apart samples, analyze them structurally, figure out what kind of language works on this platform.

Some academics maintain personal websites. Without engaging in any kind of search engine optimization, however, your website is likely to come up pretty low when someone googles you. Try posting content on your department page, which is much heavier-trafficked. Ask if you can post a link to your personal website there.

Remember, if you do maintain a site to update it regularly, and keep the interface from looking dated. There are dozens of free and affordable companies that offer services to help with creating a professional website.

Perhaps even more helpful, however, is content you post on others’ sites. Look at online journals or websites related to your field- could you post something there? Try looking for podcasts, video series’, online magazines, et cetera produced by organizations you’re interested in. This can help get your name out there and build connections with others in your field.

Most importantly, clarify your goals and use your time well. Spend time online with intentionality. If your time online isn’t furthering what you want in life, find ways to cut down on those things and reallocate that time and attention to things that are better for you in the long-term.

This page was last updated: July 26, 2018



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