The other day, I went to a networking event for an internship program that was recruiting on campus. I spoke to one recruiter in particular and sparks were flying — in a strictly professional sense, of course. We talked for almost an hour, connecting over shared career interests and experiences. But as I was leaving, she imparted some haunting words: “Follow me on Twitter!” she said. “I’ll follow back.”
Now, I hate to flex (I love to flex) but I have been known to pop off on Twitter. I jokingly chronicle the often unfortunate reality that is my life, and my more-curated-than-I’d-like-to-admit bio sums up my brand perfectly: a tasteful "lmao". I’ll make you laugh while keeping it G-ish rated. But I didn’t follow the recruiter on Twitter, because I didn’t want her to follow me back.
In the world of journalism, being able to maintain a strong online presence is a marketable skill. Professionals in the field use their Twitter accounts to showcase their work/important news updates/share the work of other journalists. In order to keep up, I should be doing the same. Unfortunately, though, this does not align with my current online presence.
Until recently, I’d committed more to humor than to my (hopefully) future career. It felt off-putting to tweet a link to an article I wrote about Orange County’s most recent community engagement efforts (read it though) and then follow it with a tweet about symmetrical face privilege.
This all sparked the question: if professionalism isn’t in line with my current brand, do I build another brand?
A friend of mine convinced me to take the plunge and make a separate, professional Twitter account. The essence of her argument was that I’d get to continue being my clownish self on my personal account and the addicted-to-the-grind career woman I want hiring managers to perceive me as on my professional one. It feels slimy. Why can’t my sense of humor coincide with my professionalism? It’s G-ish rated, anyways!
My professional account feels like a watered down version of myself. My new bio describes what I’m studying and where I work, and maybe my frustration is more a testament to my lack of experience with professionalism than with the pointlessness of professional accounts, but I’m not convinced.
Earlier today, one of my professors followed me on Twitter. My first reaction was “nooo don’t follow me, I was gonna tweet about skipping your class today aha.” When I got to class, instead of the awkward, knowing eye contact I expected to share, my professor came up to me and said that she thought my tweets were funny! And then we moved on — can you imagine?
This is how it should be. My professor doesn’t see me differently now that she knows I have a sense of humor, because she recognizes that there’s more to Amena than what she gets out of 90 minutes of class per week. The professional world should operate in the same way. We need to normalize the reality that we are multidimensional. Our interests and jokes don’t always align with our 9-5’s, and that’s okay! Down with the separate accounts!!