An Intern’s Online Identity

People write different ways depending on their audience. For instance, I have begun to frequently write blog posts for The Ad Council’s official blog AdLibbing and am very careful about my language, tone, and content. Afterall, this blog is a great way for me to show off my personality and critical thinking capacities to both my supervisor and high level Ad Council professionals.

On here, the AU Intern Blog, I was much more casual in my blog posts caring admittedly less about sentence structure and in-depth, personal analysis. Therefore, it was much to my mortification and horror when I saw my first blog post on here sent out to a large part of the Ad Council PR team for reference. It was then that I realized that I’m not just writing for my peers or for a $50 Amazon gift card – I’m writing for my employer as well. This prompted a quick Google search of myself and a frantic effort to protect my online identity.

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m an incredibly open person. I don’t think I’ve ever been described as private. Being said, I have a strong presence online and I’ve always thought I was very good at keeping it professional. My supervisor and co-workers can only see my limited Facebook profile (sorry guys if you’re reading!), there aren’t any pictures of me drinking, and my LinkedIn is a shrine of personal accomplishment. What I’m not so proud about was to see my writing, which I wrongly assumed was part of my AU bubble, become part of my professional portfolio.

The real irony here is that the first blog post I wrote for The Ad Council was a cautionary tale about being aware of what you share (Link here). Now, I’m not necessarily doing something wrong or inappropriate (especially not on the level of ex-congressman Weiner), but I did fail to consider the full implications of what I was posting. I had met with my supervisor about any limitations for posting private information about the campaigns I’m working on and had always just thought it’d only be her that would see it. Nope. Not the case. The Google search I conducted with one of the Campaign Managers brought up multiple pictures of myself and, worst of all, my MySpace I abandoned in 2006 (yes, go ahead and look. It’s a lesson in how embarrassing these things can be in retrospect…and I forgot my email and can’t delete it so I might as well own it). Despite how awesome it was to find my SAT scores I published on my Myspace, it was a wake up call to manage my online image much more carefully.

Essentially this is an important lesson for every intern in the digital age. There are the obvious “Don’t make your status about how much you hate your boss or a client” words of advice, but beyond that common sense level of thinking is a much more deliberate sense of self online especially when anything about your online persona connects you to your job…or even if you don’t think it does.

Is me not being the proudest of my sentence structure the worst thing in the world? No. I never said anything I wasn’t supposed to, I was never chastised for not being as witty here as I was in my blog posts, and this is nowhere near as bad as Weiner’s failure to understand his online identity. But it did suddenly reflect my capabilities as a blogger at a company that frequently asks to represent them. It was a personal let down more than anything.

The lesson? My blog posts will most certainly be better written from here on out. I know who’s reading.