I was talking today to someone about the success that Hull University has had in the Microsoft Imagine Cup over the years. We were discussing why it is that Hull students seem to engage in the competition whereas ones from other, lessor, universities don't.
I think that one of the reasons is that as soon as our students arrive, in one of the first lectures, I talk about "The Brand that is You". University study should be about lots of things, learning, having fun and growing. And also brand management. Students should make a conscious effort to do things that will enhance their brand. That means blogging, taking part in forums and newsgroups, and entering competitions, amongst them the Imagine Cup.
The person that I was talking to was quite surprised about the idea, but reckoned that it made perfect sense to look at it that way. With employers routinely looking up potential hires on the Internet people are becoming aware of the potential for personal damage that posting silly pictures can bring, but turning that on its head, and building a network profile that does you credit is definitely a good plan.
Oh, and by this I don't mean creating a fake persona, that would be really stupid, as you'd then have to spend great chunks of your life behaving like someone you aren't. You should just you make sure that your on-line appearance does you credit and look for ways that you can make yourself more interesting. Although this should probably not include blog posts that mention your bogeys, arrogance or stupidity. Or are just plain daft.