The Senior Series: Do I Need a Blog?

Yesterday I had a very interesting conversation with my sister, Ashley, who is a college senior graduating in May.  My sister is part of Mizzou’s top-tier journalism school in a convergence program that combines several types of journalism and new media. 

One of her classes this semester requires her to have a blog.  She wasn’t thrilled about the idea.  Its not that she is against blogging.  In fact, we discussed and bought a domain name for her future blog months ago.  Her problem is that she feels that “blogging just to blog” is silly.  She also feels: 

  • The blogging space is overcrowded and that there is too much crap out there- especially about social media. 
  • That unless you are going to make it the best blog in your niche, have an awesome design, and devote a lot of time to it, that it’s pointless. 
  • She feels weird trying to pose as an “expert” on a career path she hasn’t even started yet.
  • She feels she is just starting to define her niche, and jumping in too early might be a mistake.
  • That blogging without a goal in mind is pointless.

When I spoke to a few entrepreneurship classes at my alma mater, Miami of Ohio, a few weeks ago, one of the first questions I got from both classes was whether or not they need to have a blog before heading into a job search.  I sensed panic in their voices and I wasn’t sure why. 

Apparently this is a hot topic right now among college juniors and seniors, so let’s discuss it further.

Thoughts from Real College seniors

I know that many professors in the J-school at UNC are beginning to “force”online presence on their students, but not necessarily just blogs.  For oneclass, it is a requirement that students have a Twitter and in order to ask questions of the professor the students must tweet them.  There was an internship I was interested in applying to earlier this year, but one of the requirements was to submit sample blog posts I had written, and since I hadn’t written any, I was automatically disqualified. I think its important to have an online presence, but I am one of those people that really struggles with a blog, mostly just because I haven’t found my niche yet.  If I were to blog, it would probably be just a jumble of stuff, rather than a series of posts on a certain topic/subject, and wouldn’t really be of interest to others. –Sabrina, University of North Carolina

I started blogging for myself, so I could track how I was doing in my career and keep track of what I was learning. When I gained an audience, they became another aspect. I think you should only blog if you are truly passionate and committed to it. If you aren’t, employers will notice. You are better off focusing on the other areas that you are passionate about. –Rachel, Central Michigan University

I’ve been blogging for 5 years so I’m pretty proud of the effort I’ve
put into my blog. It hurts when it doesn’t seem to be doing much for
me. On the other hand, my current boss admitted that one of the
reasons he hired me was because he was impressed with some of the
things I’ve written online. –Rob, John Carroll University

What do I think?

  • No, not everyone needs a blog.  There just certain people who will never jump on that train.  Not everyone is a writer.  Not everyone likes being in the public eye.  In some fields, blogging might be a bad thing (certain professions with the financial and legal fields come to mind).
  • Getting involved in online communities is crucial for job seekers and college seniors, but there are several ways to do that without being a blogger. For example:
    • Get on LinkedIn, join groups, join conversations, send private messages, ask to connect to those within your industry.
    • Have a professional Twitter account with your real name, location and a head shot.  Make a catchy and keyword rich bio line.  Conduct Twitter searches in order to surround yourself with those in your field.
    • Read a lot of blogs.  Comment on blogs. Email authors of blogs.
    • If you want to establish some Google credibility in your field, consider guest posting for your favorite blogs.  Most bloggers welcome guest posters.  Then if you are asked for a writing sample at an interview, you have one ready.
    • Stay consistent with your online efforts- balance putting out great information, engaging with your community and putting a dash of your personality in as well.
  • Blogging is NOT for everyone.  If you hate the idea of being a blogger, don’t bother! The last thing the world needs is another crappy blog.
  • I see value in what professors are trying to do by forcing students to get online for a semester.  A big part of education is doing things you are uncomfortable with.  Learning things that are not your strengths, and staying up on the latest technology.  As much as it is probably super annoying, I think these professors are doing their jobs by forcing you to get immersed in social media.  It’s not going anywhere. My guess is that you’d look back and be mad if your professors didn’t teach you how to use social media 5 years from now.

What do you think?

College seniors: do you feel pressured to start a blog?

Professionals: do you think a blog is necessary?

Nicole Emerick

Nicole Emerick founded Ms. Career Girl in 2008 to help other ambitious young professional women thrive in a career they love. Ironically, growing MsCareerGirl helped Nicole transition her own career from commercial banker to digital marketer. Today Nicole leads the social media team at a large advertising agency in Chicago. Nicole also served as an adjunct professor at DePaul University where she helped develop the careers of PR, Advertising and Communications students. Tweet with Nicole @_NicoleEmerick.