On College and Blogging

And You Can Blog - The Anti-Social MediaThis past Saturday I spoke on a panel about blogging to students at the UNC SMART Conference. The conference was a short, half day event designed and put on by Career Services, and was quite successful for their first effort to put on a social media focused event for the students.

Blogging while in school is a very conflicting topic. I was told once I should blog about my honors thesis on sexuality in cartoon music. As fun and interesting as that was, I’m sure that all of my past and future employers would love to be reading that document right now and learning about how many cartoons I watched and how I perverted them. Really, I want everyone to think I’m some some kind of kinky, cartoon-obsessed freak in addition to being a social media sociopath.

So, while blogging never worked out for me as a student, there was more I wanted to say though to the students listening to my panel. These are the major highlights I think I or the  panel missed that we should have covered.

  • There are hundreds of reasons to blog - While we may have focused on careers, there are lots of great reasons to start a blog that have nothing to do with being professional. Maybe you just like to tell funny stories. Maybe you want to show off your cool drawings. Or maybe you want to take videos of your cat and then force hundreds of people to watch them. All of these are just as acceptable and qualified a reason to blog as someone who write about business marketing, and sometimes it’s easier to build and connect with an audience around these topics.
  • Emphasize quality over quantity - Given the time, we can all write 100 crappy blog posts. If you’re a student who’s transitioning and looking for a new job, writing posts that are quality is more important than quantity.
  • Nobody is perfect - There are millions of bloggers out there all with different agendas and purposes. Just because one blogger is successful doesn’t mean you will be, and for most blogs there is no straight-forward path to success. We all make mistakes, and we all can do better. Just do your best with your resources and you’ll be fine.
  • Stick to a schedule - Readers hate blogs without any kind of schedule. It makes it hard for them to know when to come by. Figure out what you can do, and start blogging on that schedule. Similarly, if you have a schedule, and you can’t keep up with it, rethink it. There is no right or wrong answer about how much and how often you are supposed to blog. Again, think quality.
  • Have fun -  You’re young. You don’t have to be a boring, stuffy professional. Your blog should reflect you and your awesomeness. That doesn’t mean you can’t be professional, but you can create something that is new and exciting without having all the baggage of a long career with you.

What would you tell today’s college students about blogging? Embrace the medium? Run for your life? Keep a healthy distance from bloggers like me? Let’s get the kids on a better path to success than we are on.

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18 Responses to “On College and Blogging”

  1. John Morrow March 1, 2011 at 8:37 am #

    Please provide a link to your thesis. It sounds brilliant.

    I always suspected that El Kabong was a euphemism for gay sex.

    • Jay March 1, 2011 at 11:25 am #

      Maybe one day I will, but until then, you’ll need to go to my university library and read it.

  2. Mich March 1, 2011 at 9:31 am #

    I spoke to a very new social media class at the Lebanese American University in Beirut last November. As a new blogger myself, and coming from a career in “old media,” my message was and is: 1. Write from the heart, whether it is about your cat, family, friends, music, fashion, travels… Readers can feel when you are sincere and want to join in. 2. Have fun.
    Eventually this blog will be your CV.
    That’s what I try to do anyway :-)

    • Pat Kent March 1, 2011 at 9:56 am #

      Wow, I’ve always wanted to go to Beirut! Someday I’d like to head over there and take a day trip to the Temples of Baalbek (came highly recommended by a friend). Love your blog by the way!

      • Mich March 1, 2011 at 12:08 pm #

        Do try… Beirut and Lebanon in general is really worth it. And thanks Pat for reading :-)

    • Jay March 1, 2011 at 9:17 pm #

      I would write more about my cat, but that would be an invasion of her privacy.

  3. Pat Kent March 1, 2011 at 9:36 am #

    I think it’s fairly important for college students to blog. There is a real entrepreneurial spirit involved in maintaining a blog. You have to set your own goals and have the discipline to post regularly. Also, in my experience, many companies stick interns and newbies with the corporate blog responsibility. At least knowing the basics of blogging could help them give a good first impression.

    • Jay March 1, 2011 at 11:01 pm #

      Blogging is just another extension of writing. It is all part of one essential skill to have.

  4. Chris Ferdinandi March 1, 2011 at 12:02 pm #

    If you’re a student who’s transitioning and looking for a new job, writing posts that are quality is more important than quantity.

    I’d say that applies to everyone, not just students. There are far too many blogs that churn out 100 crappy posts for every five or ten good ones.

    • Jay March 1, 2011 at 12:03 pm #

      Like this blog? ;)

      • Chris Ferdinandi March 1, 2011 at 12:07 pm #

        Nah, you’ve got more of a 5 to 1 ratio. There are some real stinkers out there, especially in the HR space.

        • Jay March 1, 2011 at 9:07 pm #

          I should start a HR blog. It would be called “I’m really bad with people but somehow I got stuck doing HR.”

  5. Dino Dogan March 1, 2011 at 1:18 pm #

    Can I get stuck on on a very minor point you’ve made?

    You said “I’m sure that all of my past and future employers would love to be reading that document right now and learning about how many cartoons I watched and how I perverted them.”

    Heres the thing.

    Everyone, and especially employers need to get over themselves.

    We’ve all done stupid things (not that perverted interpretations of cartoons are stupid :-) those things just weren’t documented.

    Using Social Media and Blogging, especially out of context, is a shitty way to vett potential employees. And every HR person who does is is a hack. There, I said it.

    • Claire Wagner March 1, 2011 at 8:57 pm #

      …but until we have a labor shortage in this country, the hacks will win.

    • Jay March 1, 2011 at 11:04 pm #

      Yeah, it sucks. But until there is some type of law about it, it happens, and you have to be in control of what that idiot finds.

  6. Rand March 1, 2011 at 4:09 pm #

    To your first point “There are hundreds of reasons to blog” and then you actually go on to mention several possible (and great) reasons. Thanks! Nice to see some positive directions to offer!

    • Jay March 1, 2011 at 9:06 pm #

      There’s positive direction in this post? I better take it down and edit it. ;)

      • Rand March 1, 2011 at 9:11 pm #

        LOL! Don’t you dare!

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