Sunday, April 27, 2008

Smile, You're On Camera

Career advisers regularly need to admonish their job search clients to protect their image, and consider their personal branding. There are just too many horror stories of employers doing background checks, only to find a lack of good judgment documented on a MySpace website or somewhere else on the Internet.

Part of the trouble is that many young people do not understand corporate culture, and how typically conservative it is. Many employers now use drug screening as part of the hiring process, and even if employers do not use drug tests, they still are more comfortable with candidates they are certain will exercise good judgment.

This is where I feel for all students at University of California of Santa Cruz. Notably one of the most beautiful public campuses in the country with some excellent academic programs, this school is clouded by a reputation that many employers would not smile upon. A prime example is an annual event that occurred last week on April 20, or 4/20. 420 Day or 420 Fried Day is an event where thousands of students gather to smoke marijuana. Documentation of the event can easily be found on the Internet including many photos and You Tube footage.

Perhaps this event is an excellent way to broadcast political views on legalization, as there is no denying that this movement is gaining wider support with the younger generation, but the question that needs to be asked is: How are such things affecting the brand image of Santa Cruz? Where at least 5,000 students participated in 420 day this year (this is still a small percentage of students attending the school), all their students are potentially impacted by this image. If you were an employer would you feel more comfortable hiring someone from this school or perhaps a school that has a more conservative culture?

A college education should help students acknowledge their power to change the world, but students should also be warned that the world of work is substantially more conservative than a typical college campus, and changing the world is a lot more challenging when it is difficult to get a job.

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