In a world where everyone has a (loud) voice, how will yours stand out?
When you first graduate from college, the "space of concern" of life extends dramatically.
No longer are your chief concerns passing your coursework while maintaining social relationships with your peers. The problem space widens, as you begin to worry about five and even ten(!) year career goals, the ebb and flow of adult relationships, bills and taxes, and securing your identity out in the real world.
Some of you will be searching for gainful employment. Others will continue their education. Others yet will decide to start their own businesses.
For all of you, I'd like to make a simple recommendation.
Start a blog.
"A blog? What's the point of that? I already have a Linked-Twitter-book-gram!", some might say.
To understand why having a blog is important, we need to understand the difference between a many to many relationship and a many to one relationship.
In CS classes, you may have heard about cardinality. Simply put, cardinality is the relationship of one data point (or table in a database, if we're talkin' bout databases) to another.
A many to many relationship is when a large number of nodes interacts with another large number of nodes. Facebook and Twitter employ this model well. You will become "friends" with someone, which means you will see all their posts and they will see yours.
A many to one relationship is when a large number of nodes interact with one node. YouTube is a good example of this model. Channels attract thousands or millions of subscribers, but don't need to subscribe to their followers.
A many-to-many social media site is akin to everyone being allowed a soap box. They scream at each other very loudly, more concerned with what they say than what others said (yo, how many likes did my pic get?). The resulting cacophony is deafening.
A many-to-one social media site is akin to turning on the TV and watching one person talk. If you like what they say, you'll follow them. The resulting noise is much quieter, much more focused, and you won't be competing as aggressively with your peers for airwave space.
When you're starting a blog, or a vlog, or whatever, it doesn't need to be good. Just write what you know. Write what you care about. The rest will come as you become a more proficient writer and thinker, and your expertise will grow as well.
"What I cannot create, I do not understand." - Richard Feynman
For new college grads, the strongest case I can make for blogging is the ability to distinguish yourself from the pack. As your resume falls onto the pile of 50+ others with similar backgrounds and degrees, it's easy to disappear into the noise, and you run the risk of recruiters passing you like that bus you ran to catch up with but just missed.
Here's the dish. All twenty two year olds new grads are effectively the same person. Why? Because we all went to the same schools, took the same courses, played the same sports, and watched the same television shows.
When your resume hits the stack, it may as well be a conversation as follows for recruiters:
"Student A got a perfect SAT score, and played tennis for their college team!"
"Well student B had an internship at a finance company, and they passed their math class with the best grade in class!"
"Guys, that's nothing! Student C is definitely our best bet. They were involved in student government, and they do opera!"
Having a blog gives you an individual voice, and allows you to tell your story. Early on in a career, when competing for entry level work, you want to be a story and not just a name.
- Improve your critical thinking skills
- Improve your understanding of topics
- A body of work to refer to, and pays over time
- Encourages people to join your network
- Allows you to flex your individuality
- Will land you opportunities (trust me on this one, it's happened to me multiple times)