Last week, I was fortunate to be one of the speakers at Newell-Fonda’s annual event: My Future, My Career Responsibility. Educators, Mrs. Nieland (@nieland10) and Mrs. Carlson (@glccac97) created the day to be “more than a typical career day or college fair…to discover information and practice skills that will help them [students] in their future no matter what they pursue.”
From being greeted at the door by a student to a catered lunch, the planning and preparation involved was evident. I enjoyed table conversation with students, and I appreciated the attention to detail. Mrs. Nieland and Mrs. Carlson explained what drove their design, “Several of our goals stemmed from the 21st century skills from the Iowa Core Curriculum.” This is their second year for organizing the event, and after the first, the ladies made improvements. Students were encouraged to take photos and tweet their learning. The various subjects were relevant; I was honored to speak about digital branding and social media.
My first challenge to the group was to find me online. Student did. They shared what they discovered. I asked them why they thought I would give them that challenge. Most responded with something like, “To show us how easy it is to find stuff out about people.” That could have been a reason, but it was not exactly mine. Truly, I did not mean for this to be a trick question-the kinds of questions we ask pretending there is not one right answer when we are really just looking for one right answer. I was curious. Curious. I do have numerous reasons for inviting students to find me online: meet me where many of my colleagues and connections met me first, see my confidence in my presence, and discover my name, username and bio are similar if not the same across the digital landscape…
As we discussed branding and social media, I did share the importance of considering where one lives in the digital landscape:
Where are you?
Who is also there?
What do others gain from you being there?
What do you gain from being there?
Whether personally or professionally, our connections should support and challenge. Not only can we benefit, but others should benefit from our presence. Where we live, who we live with, and what we contribute in that place all works to form our brand. I shared stories and examples of positive professional brands from elementary students to adults. While I know that building a brand does not happen in one session on one day, I hoped to provide an opportunity to reflect in possibility as students considered the theme of the day: My Future, My Career Responsibility.