Meridian High School freshmen received some advice Monday morning about strategies they might use to present themselves to future educators and employers. They also heard about actions they might want to avoid altogether.
Members of Mississippi State University-Meridian’s Collegiate DECA chapter delivered a presentation about “personal branding” and related topics to the freshmen in Meridian High School’s auditorium. Lynette Cockrell, vice president of the MSU-Meridian’s DECA chapter, said social media, among other factors, can contribute to the image a student projects to employers and educators.
“College admission officers are going to be looking at their social media, so they really need to start thinking about that now while they’re freshmen,” Cockrell said after the presentation.
Cockrell, who just completed her bachelor’s degree in business administration, coordinated Monday’s presentation.
Cockrell’s own portion of the presentation dealt with “personal branding,” in which she displayed slides of famous people and companies to the students, including a photo of the Meridian High School Wildcats’ logo.
“You are able to identify the company logos by just looking at the symbol,” Cockrell told the students. “The impression you have of these people, and these companies, relates to personal branding.”
Melissa Hamilton, who also just completed her bachelor’s degree in business administration from MSU-Meridian, reminded students of the public nature of their social media pages and the posts that appear on their friends’ pages.
“You’re already branding yourself,” she said. “You’re already advertising.
Hamilton advised students, among other things, to heed their language and to feel comfortable removing posts.
“Feel free to unpost yourself,” she said. “If your friend puts up a picture and tags you in it, untag yourself. It’s not rude. You don’t have to worry about what they’re thinking … You want to control the impression you’re giving others.”
Hamilton also warned students not to type messages on social media when they feel riled up.
“Refrain from posting when angry,” she said. “Who has seen somebody put a rant on their Facebook page and then have to come back and take it off? It’s embarrassing.”
Takelia McVay-Marzette, a student at MSU-Meridian in Healthcare Administration, provided “dress-to-impress” tips to students. Later, she noted freshman year as a particularly good time to think about careers and self-presentation.
“Ninth-grade is like the foundation,” she said. “You want to make sure they know how to dress, how to brand themselves and to stay away from the negativity of the social media.”
The students who absorbed and participated in Monday’s presentation — some came up on stage as volunteers — have been taking a “freshman focus” course that constitutes part of their work in Meridian High School’s Freshman Academy. Shannon Hosey, a freshman focus teacher, said the presentation gave them a “little snapshot” of the future.
Hosey said the freshmen have been exploring various careers throughout the semester in their freshman focus class.
“The students are learning hands-on,” he said, noting hospital tours, CPR lessons and other projects throughout the semester.
Cockrell said she began to think about suggesting a presentation as she noticed the career-related topics her daughter, a Meridian High School freshman, was exploring in school.
“My daughter was working on some projects at home for her freshman focus class,” she said. “I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we could go ahead and talk to them about the things we’re learning so that it would give them an advantage for the future?’”
Natasha Randle, faculty advisor or the DECA chapter at MSU-Meridian, described the benefit of DECA members at MSU-Meridian coming into the high school environment.
“They see us out of a normal college setting,” said Randle, an associate professor of management, after the presentation. “They know that we’re real people, willing to come to their home and share information with them.”
Story by Michael Neary - The Meridian Star