No, not human capital. Capital of the human. Personal branding. Professional identity. Online persona. These phrases have come to denote specific aspects of the individual that are referenced particularly in regards to professional life. It would seem that previous generations only interviewed for jobs during the actual job interview, but now young professionals are continually performing. Yes, you have heard it before and are probably rolling your eyes right now. I’m not going to preach (Heh, get it? Religious studies.) at you about the woes that the young professional faces. What I do wish to discuss are the specific questions and challenges I am personally facing or will face in the coming months.
In May, I will be graduating with a Masters degree in the humanities. I’ll have been prepared with plenty of hard and soft skills. But a degree in the humanities does not bleed into a specific job the way a degree in accounting or engineering might. The minute my thesis is done I’ll officially begin my job search. Frankly, I’m not real clear on what’s out there. I’m currently trawling the job websites to begin to get an idea. I’ve also begun to make a point of intentionally keeping my eyes and ears open about what people are doing for work and how they got to places of seeming success. As much as it scares me, I know this is a component of life I’m going to have to go through and I’m doing everything I can think of to prepare for it. Have suggestions? Please. Give them to me.
I’ve also recently begun to clean up my Twitter and Facebook. Facebook’s been fairly easy so far. I don’t really have any wild spring break photos that need privacy settings changed — probably because I never really had wild spring breaks. Also, I make sure all of my posts about things I want my future employer to see (like links to this blog) are made public. Everything else is set to friends only or friends of friends. Even then, I’ve made sure that “everything else” is basically just fun personal life stuff. Twitter has been more interesting to navigate. To my recollection, I’ve never tweeted anything potentially damaging and frankly, I don’t have the time or energy to go through my old tweets. But I’ve changed my picture to a professional headshot and updated my bio to more reflect me as a functional adult than as a fun human — blah. And I’ve stopped tweeting about The Bachelor franchise.
Finally, I’ve already started thinking about what to do with this blog and website once my thesis is completed. As much as I love that picture of the well at Cawnpore, I don’t think it will continue to have a place as my header photo. I’m also blogging every day this month to explore topics I enjoy writing about and to try to find a way to transition more into professional posts and/or posts about popular culture in general rather than specifically academic posts — this post itself is an example of that. So check back in March and April to see where I’ve gone. (But also keep reading in the meantime. Feedback helps bunches.)
Altogether, I’m hoping these intentional approaches to how I present and identify myself both online and in person (I’ve stopped wearing sweatpants in public) will have a positive effect on me getting and retaining a job. But also its a fun lesson on how identity works and the always changing modes in which we can present ourselves to others. In learning about acts of identification in social theory, I also get to intentionally experience it firsthand as I move more towards the common professional life rather than the academic.